Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Hard Saying: Hate Your Family

"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. (Luk 14:26-27 NAU)

This is difficult for anyone to hear, but especially coming from the lips of the one who told us to love all people. How are we supposed to both love and hate?

The context of this passage is better seen in Matthew 10, where a different version of the same saying is given: "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." (Mat 10:37 NAU)

In this passage, it is clearly shown that it is not the disciple who rejects his family, but his family who feels rejected because the disciple prioritizes Jesus and His way to God. To follow Jesus means to reject some of the values we were raised with, to reject the lifestyle of our parents and, if we are already married, our spouse and possibly children. Jesus' call is a life of radical love, accepting those who are hated by society. It is a life of sacrifice for the needy, even at the expense of our own needs at times. It is a life which prioritizes the people of faith over the desires of one's own family. Because of this, our family will feel marginalized or even rejected.

And if we prioritize Jesus over the gods and prophets our family worships-- whether that be Moses, Mammon, Muhammad or Mars-- our family will rightly seeing us rejecting the most important things they value. At his point, our family will feel "hated" by us, and they will begin actively persecuting us. Perhaps they will yell at us, perhaps they will ostracize us, perhaps they will find ways to have legal action taken against us. But from their perspective, we took the first step, in following Jesus.

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