“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethern, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26
Harsh words, aren’t they? How could Jesus, the One who loves everyone, say that we have to “hate” all the people in our life and even our own self?
Hate is a vicious word. I don’t like for my children to use this word because of the strength behind it. Good old Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines “hate”, in it’s first definition, as “To dislike greatly; to have a great aversion to. It expresses less than abhor, detest, and abominate, unless pronounced with peculiar emphasis.” The second definition refers to Scripture – “it signifies to love less.” Matthew 10:37 describes what “hate” is referring to in this passage – “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (By the way, these references were pointed out to me during a sermon we had at church a couple of weeks ago – need to give credit where credit is due!)
So what is Jesus trying to get us to understand here?
Things get in the way. People get in the way. Jobs get in the way. Life can get in the way. We allow things to come between us and Jesus all the time. I am agent #1 when it comes to finding excuses and reasons why I can’t serve or be a part of something that would be a blessing to me and honor God. That is nothing to be proud of, I assure you.
I think if we are honest with ourself, we all have a hard time, from time to time, pointing others to Christ. And part of the reason for that problem, I propose, is that we let too many things come between us and Christ.
Have you ever stood in a forest packed with trees and tried to get someone else to see a bird on a branch in a tree about 10 yards away from you? You try explaining and pointing and repositioning them in front of you but they never really see exactly what you are seeing. It is really quite the circus to watch – this dancing around and pointing and jibbering about the cool bird. But because of all the trees and all the leaves and all the other things to look at, the one you want to share the beautiful bird with really can’t see it.
Same thing in our life when we have activities and jobs and family and friends and the desire to have the finest things that get in the way of us showing Christ to other people. We stand there pointing and explaining and repositioning them in front of us but they rarely see Christ because of all the other stuff that seems more important to us than Jesus. That hurts.
Ok, fine, I’m wounded now. I’m guilty. Now what?
I don’t have the answers. All I know is that we are encouraged to daily follow Jesus. Hebrews 12:1 – “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us”. Lay off that weight and run. You see, the sin – the stuff that comes between us and Jesus – needs to be laid off. We, I, need to get those things out from between me and Jesus. I need to walk closer to Him. I need to have Him so visible in my life that I shouldn’t even have to point Him out. Other people should just see Him working in my life.
I may not have all the answers, but I can do my best to point you to the One who does – Jesus.