The Call of Jesus to Hate

A reading for Tuesday, November 11, 2014: Luke 14:25-35.

There is no easy way to read the words of Jesus today. They are pointed and sharp, cutting us to the core of our being. We wonder how could Jesus command us to hate anything, much less our families and certainly not "life itself." What is going on here?

So at the risk of sounding as if I am rationalizing. This is not a preacher trick intended to soften the message, letting myself (and my own love for family and life) off the hook with the rest of us. We do have to consider the word Jesus uses. Misei is the greek word for hate. It's a strong word. It is also translated as to love something less than something else. Could Jesus be requiring more love for God than the love the disciples have even for their family, even for their lives? Perhaps the message for us lies somewhere just on the harsh edge of the translation.

Jesus was instructing the disciples to count the cost of following him. Know what you are getting yourself into, says Jesus. If you are not prepared to endure the suffering that is required and to rebuff those that will surely encourage you to quit and return home, then you will be of no use to the Kingdom. If you are expecting to love the life that others enjoy, then you are not ready to follow Jesus. Jesus calls you to something better, but is is surely something different. Are you ready?

Like a builder of a house that must first consider how much it costs to build, or risk the scorn and ridicule of others who see the incomplete work. Like a general who fails to understand the battle that is required, and then is embarrassed in defeat. Jesus calls disciples to consider not just themselves, but how each will represent the Kingdom of God to others. Do not reflect badly upon the Kingdom of God, but first consider what is required to finish what you start.

Are we ready? Have we considered what Christianity and discipleship requires of us? Does it costs us anything? Do we love some things, even good things, more than we love Jesus? Can we hear Jesus call to hate or at least to love something less?

I once asked a friend of mine in Guatemala the difference between American Christianity and Guatemalan Christianity. In Guatemala, protestant disciples like my friend are often ridiculed and even discriminated against in employment and leadership positions. In a nation of poverty, those called to serve others do so with less resources and suffer to help others. My friend answered, "In Guatemala we know our discipleship will cost us something. Most Americans wonder if there is a cost to following Jesus. We know for sure there is."

"Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”


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