Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Concerning Jesus’ Command to Hate

The other day I was with a friend and we were listening to a lesson on Luke 14:26. It records a statement by our Lord Jesus in which he commands us to hate.
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
The comment was in the larger context of Jesus giving various instructions by way of analogy, metaphor and allegory but certainly with specific and literal lessons to be applied. The Teacher to whom we were listening explained that the Greek word for hate, μισέω, (miseo) means to “love less” or “prefer less” and that hate isn’t exactly the best translation. And the fact is many Teachers go on to amplify this idea by saying that it can be translated, “If any man come to me, and loves his…more than me, he cannot be my disciple”. Hence, my friend turned to me and asked the obvious question which was why did the translators in so many translations, use the word hate?

I had not given this particular element of Scripture a great deal of thought until this question was posed and until then, frankly, I was satisfied with the sentiment of the above believing that clearly it means to love Jesus more than anything and the others less. But after studying the matter I believe this idea is an overcompensation for the strong language here. That is, the word hate, is a fitting translation because it is not the positive which is being asserted, rather it is the negative. That is, there are times when we are to, indeed, hate our own lives, our children, wife, husband, sister, brother, mother and father.

Really? Yes, really and that is what our Lord meant!

The Illustration Which Serves

All humans love something universally. In fact, this thing which all humans love universally is an absolute. That is, there isn't a human alive that does not love it. And this it is called water. Sometimes you love it especially and sometimes modestly but water is something without which we cannot live and we love.

But imagine water being where it does not belong such as flooding in your house and destroying your home. On that day and on that occasion you genuinely hate the water. Why? Because it is out of place, it is where it does not belong and even more so, its presence is destroying something valuable to you. This is a rather simple illustration but to the point.

What our Lord Expects

Our own lives and the lives of our family mean a great deal. The saying, “blood is thicker than water” is no casual thought. If you were a criminal and wanted to force a mother or father to cooperate all you have to do is threaten the well being of their child. And it is understandable that our family (our spouse, parents, siblings and children) means as much as they do but like water, our Lord requires that if we claim to be his disciples and they are taking priority over preoccupation with him, we lie and do not the truth.

The Lord knows that these are things which will challenge us to our very core. Your spouse will threaten and pout at times, your parents complain, your brothers and sisters mock and your children throw fits because their lives are being inconvenienced, embarrassed and lessened by your fanaticism in devoting yourself to Christ and that they cannot usurp him from the throne of your heart.

I have heard the cry from parents for many years which is that their children have so many activities and their social calendar is so full that it is hard to have time to make Christ a priority. Okay, just understand, you are not a disciple of Christ. Yes, you may be trailing at a distance but you are no disciple.

Yes, You Must Learn to Hate What Destroys Your Home

Think about your heart, it is the home or residence of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Shekinah Glory has come to live within you. Now, think of the blessing of your human family as water which has its proper place. It satisfies; it gives refreshment and serves in many ways. But it also can destroy your home if you let it.

It isn’t easy. Our Lord emphasized this in verse 27 by saying:
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
You think there isn’t going to be an upheaval in your home and with your family when you commit your life to Christ as a disciple? Even if you are in a family with Christians there will be various levels of commitment and those less committed than that of a disciple will give you grief. You will be accused of all kinds of things and the Father of Lies, Lucifer, will be happy to send demonic emissaries to encourage lackluster believers and certainly antagonistic unbelievers who are part of your family. They will tell you Jesus has no intention of you denying them their social pleasures for the proper maintenance of your discipleship to Christ. They will offer you every temptation known to man and then some, all to derail you.

And when none of this works and it seems you have been able to vanquish familial conquistadors, there is you, left. And unquestionably you will come knocking at the door trying to get in and take over the home of our Lord. You will tell yourself that all of your selfish-ambition, pleasure seeking and whatever else is supported by Scripture. Yes, everyone else must get out of the house except you. And this is the hardest one of all to kick out because, well, you like him or her the most. But you must look at him or her and see them for what they are, interlopers who care not for Christ and his viewpoint but of its own viewpoint, needs, wants and sweet delights to the impairment of God's intentions for your life as a disciple of Christ.

This is when you are to hate their intrusion, hate their attempts to usurp Christ (even in innocence because, in truth, there is no innocent attack on the preeminence of our Lord Jesus in our hearts), and yes, hate them because they are flood waters which seek to destroy your home. This hate will enable you to place them, like the misplaced water, back in its proper location, hence enabling you to love it as it was intended. Protect yourself and your home and hate the waters which can decimate your discipleship. They won’t always understand but our Lord will.

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