Eight hundred years before Christ's day the prophet Elijah was led to enlist Elisha as his fellow worker and successor. He found Elisha plowing, went to him, and threw his mantle over him. Elisha immediately understood that this was Elijah's way of calling him to service, so he ran after Elijah calling, "Let me kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will come with you." Elijah feigned indifference. "Go back," he said. "What have I done to you?"

If you are having trouble with your family as a result of your attempt to follow Jesus, do not despair. Count it a temporary thing. You must follow Jesus regardless of what your family may say or do, but reason that the very fact that God has called you is an encouragement to think that he may also call them. As Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, you may be the "spiritual decoy" to bring them into "the gospel net."

During World War I one of my predecessors at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Donald Grey Barnhouse, led the son of a prominent American family to the Lord. He was in the service, but he showed the reality of his conversion by immediately professing Christ before the soldiers of his military company. The war ended. The day came when he was to return to his pre-war life in the wealthy suburb of a large American city. He talked to Barnhouse about life with his family and expressed fear that he might soon slip back into his old habits. He was afraid that love for parents, brothers, sisters, and friends might turn him from following after Jesus Christ. Barnhouse told him that if he was careful to make public confession of his faith in Christ, he would not have to worry. He would not have to give up improper friends. They would give him up. As a result of this conversation the young man agreed to tell the first ten people of his old set whom he met that he had become a Christian.

If Jesus is God, then the demands of his kingdom become even more radical than we have hitherto imagined. When we hear Jesus saying that we must hate our fathers and mothers, wives and children, in order to be his disciples, that seems shockingly extreme. But if he is God, it is not extreme at all. If he is God, nothing he could possibly demand could be outrageous. If he is God, we owe him total obedience and total self-surrender. Yes, even our own lives are not too much to give in his service.

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - a man's enemies will be the members of his own household' " (Matt 10:34-36). It is after this that Jesus speaks of loving a father or mother, a son or daughter, more than himself. In this context the words in Matthew are not essentially different from those in Luke.