These and similar words seem extremely harsh to the casual hearer. Some take these strong words and filter them through a prism of allegory and metaphor. But these words are not for the average Christian “devotee” who conveniently “butterflies” itself in and out of church. These words are for those whom Lord Jesus calls his “disciples.”
In essence, Jesus is speaking as the founder (Acharya) and head mentor of an Eastern, disciplic movement. Although the “Teacher” of this type of movement welcomes the uncommitted fluttering of devotee-butterflies, the aim of a disciplic movement is to break away from all earthly attachments, in order to attach oneself to the religio-philosophical lifestyle that is exemplified by the founder. (Matthew 23:10) The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV)-
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
The Teacher of a movement is the only one who has the authority to set the standard by which his disciples ought to live. If such disciples do not like or subscribe to his standards, they have the inherent right to “flutter” away and follow a teacher who is more suitable to their personal goals. (John 6:66-68)
The standards of any particular religio-philosophical movement are not just etched on written rules that can be debated, but on the discipline and lifestyle of the Teacher. Only these serve as the proper venue by which the Teacher’s words can be properly interpreted. Lord Jesus says in John 13:15 (NIV)-
“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
In a very tangible way, Jesus had to leave his Mother and relatives in order to live a life that was fully committed to his search for God and mission. His family believed him to have been “besides himself” and often taunted him for his devotional life. (Mark 3:21; John 7:3-5) In fact, when his Mother and relatives were trying to “rescue” Jesus from what they thought was a condition of madness, Jesus pointed to those listening to him and said:
“Here are my mother and my bothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Rabbi Jesus demands that his disciples leave any earthly attachments that get in the way from a fully immersed lifestyle that seeks to imitate Christ in everything that he did- from the way he slept, to the way he ate, to the way that he talked, walked, acted, worked, studied and prayed. This means… that Jesus has to come before our spouses, children, parents, siblings and friends. If they get in the way of our devotion to Lord Jesus, then we have the right to renounce them until they turn and join us as part of the family of Christ.
Pure Christianity is not for everyone… Jesus is emphatically clear when he instructs his potential disciples to “count the cost” of what it means to be his disciples. (Luke 14: 25-34). Christianity is not the religion of compromise and convenience that we often see practiced by the masses. In order to reap the benefits of the Jesus Movement, one must serve Christ in accordance to his exemplified standards. In fact, the benefits of full salvation is only promised to his devoted disciples.
You can remain fluttering back and forth as a butterfly all you want… but only disciples reap the benefits of the Kingdom.