Disciples are to be: a) Committed; b) Wise; c) Effective. These are all qualities of God. God is totally Committed to us & creation! Totally Wise! Totally Effective! As if what Jesus is saying to us were not hard enough to bear before, now he's raised the stakes even higher: I am to be like God. Moreover, given that Wisdom is traditionally seen as a feminine 'side' to God, beware lest I become simply like some male-only God some of us make in our own image or someone else's.
My old teacher, Leon Morris (Luke, IVP, London, '74) suggests Jesus' seemingly incomprehensible words about hating family may mean: 'that the love the disciple has for Him must be so great that that the best of earthly loves is hatred by comparison'. (p 236) Still hard, but at least a starting place for wrestling with the God beyond me & the God within me in the process!
In personal life, & in our churches, are there 'towers' - whatever they might represent - we don't even need to build, ever, let alone count the cost before we start? Perhaps too often we start projects, building or otherwise, by counting the cost in the wrong way - can we afford this? Before a prior stage of consulting God as to whether we need a particular 'tower' or not?
The same goes for the wars actual & metaphorical we wage physically, spiritually, theologically, emotionally, institutionally, internally, externally, etc., etc.. Do we need to fight this particular war? In a while, voters will have the opportunity to pass judgment on Blair, Bush, & Howard & their war on Iraq. Even if electors vote for it, let's not be fooled into thinking that God voted for it, or for any other war. There's been a lot of talk about 'Intelligence', but little about 'Wisdom'.
Someone (was it Hans Rudi Weber?) once wrote a stimulating little study booklet called, I think, 'Salty Christians'. My copy has long since disappeared, but it appealed to me because it asked us to grapple with an issue put so simply by Jesus: being salt. As good an illustration as anyone's ever used. It's a bit scarey that Jesus allows no in between ground: bluntly, we're salt, or we're rubbish. Useless. Cate & I love olives. Our own trees are just beginning to bear, but we can often beg olives from those who have too many, or don't like them anyway. Then the processing begins. A lot of salt is required, but when it's played its part (dissolved in water) in the soaking process, it has to be disposed of. There is no more use for it, & I have to dispose of it safely. Not because it's lost its saltness, in this case, but because it's too strongly salt. Which raises an angle of whether some disciples can be over-salty (& damaging to the 'environment'!) just as others of us have lost our saltness & become useless?