Last Wednesday I got the opportunity to share the Luke passage (concerning counting the cost) with my new Mormon co-worker. I had him read it from the Bible I keep in my desk. Luke 14:25-33 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:  ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,  saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'  Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.  In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
I asked him, what did Jesus communicate to the crowds? He said if you are going to follow Him, you’d have to make Him number one. I said when Jesus used the word “hate” he couldn’t have been teaching we have to despise parents, wife, and children; this would go against the clear teaching of the Bible. One of the 10 commandments teaches we are to honor our father and mother, not hate them. There are verses that teach to love God and others. Many verses indicate we are to take care of our families, not to detest them. So what did Jesus have in mind? He was telling his audience to love parents, wife, and children less than Him; to make him your highest priority. Luke was using a Semitic idiom. He was literally using Old Testament language of when you love someone less, you “hate” them (Genesis 29:30, 31 RSV).
In the verses that follow, Jesus supported this line of reasoning with examples of counting the cost of being a follower. If you build a tower will you not estimate the cost before you start? Or if you go to battle will you not weigh whether you can win or not? If you want to be a follower of Jesus Christ you have to make Him your highest priority; He has to be more important than anything. Jesus goes on to say to be His disciple you have to give up everything.
My Mormon friend said this was not the Jesus he was willing to follow; his family meant too much to him. He then went after the accuracy of the Bible by saying it not accurate because of the multiple translations. I spent time letting him know how accurate the Bible is and how we can trust what it says. However, it didn’t seem to matter to him. This was not the Jesus he wanted to follow; he preferred the Jesus of Joseph Smith. The cost of following the Biblical Jesus was too high.