Most religions call for love of fellow man, and the world doesn’t want for expressions of that same sentiment. But even among those calls for love of fellow man, the love which Jesus talks about and lives out is unique and daunting. He also teaches that this daunting love must be the heart of all his followers.
In the Bible, God often reminds his followers of their identities so they’ll know how to conduct themselves. For instance, he calls them beloved sons and daughters, so they’ll relate to him as a Father and not a force. He calls them sheep to remind them that they need to seek guidance. One identity, however, seems to get overlooked: soldiers. And only a soldier understands that they’re in a battle.
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Some people have called this passage “The Anti-Blessings.” We often consider the things which Jesus condemns in this passage—riches, satisfaction and a great reputation—to be the greatest goals and blessings of our lives. However, Jesus tells his followers that sometimes a curse can be hidden inside a “blessing.”
Modern religion and spirituality is often about “finding something that works for me.” Jesus’ religion works—but not that way. He calls people to something that sounds most unreasonable: Give up everything and follow me. He calls people to be more than “believers.” He calls them to be followers.