“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.Luke:14:26
It seems so strange that God would make such a requirement to hate one’s family. How can he ask that of us? Yet, when we dig deeper we see that Jesus does not mean hate the person of our Mother and Father but the worldliness still present in them and everything they stand for. It even means to literally separate oneself from the ideological belief that these people are your real mother and father.
For although a man leaves his mother and father to cling to his new wife, so does a disciple of the Lord. He doesn’t leave them “Physically” but spiritually no longer acknowledges them as his true parents. For now, his Mother is Mary and his Father is God and His brother is Jesus. The disciple adopts not a new family but rediscovers who his real family is. This is the extremity to which a person must enjoin Himself to the Lord.
The Greek used here for hatred is, “miseō”. It means to detest but it also means to literally go after and persecute the other. I believe that we cannot follow Christ unless we are willing to persecute our very own family with our way of living. It’s a sort of spiritual and sinless persecution where we are at complete variance with who they are opposing all their ideas. There is a saying in the profession of sales, that if you can’t sell a rubbish product to your own Mother and Father you’ll never be successful.
The same is true of Christians looking to become disciples of the Lord. If we are unwilling to bring the Gospel to our own household for fear of losing their good opinion of us, then can we really call ourselves disciples of Christ? To be capable of persecuting the other with the truth of the Gospel is persecution of love. To go on the offensive with your former relatives by your way of life and preaching through words and actions, is what it really means to hate mother, father, brothers, children and wife.
Furthermore, the concept of mother and father extends to all we hold dear in life. I say this because sometimes people may say, “I don’t have a biological family or have been raised by the streets. How can I then hate what isn’t present?” Sometimes our mother and father are the things we are addicted to in this life. Our addictions become the family we must despise and let go of if we want to get closer to Christ. The child of pride we gave birth to accompanies us everywhere we go. It makes all sorts of demands like any spoiled little brat would. This is the family we must learn to hate before we can ever have a hope of following Jesus.
There’s always a family somewhere to hate, see? And yet, in a strange twist of events through our hatred of the old family, and the desire to bring the Gospel to them with the persecution of the old them, we learn to really love them. We cannot love a family in truth unless we learn to hate them and follow Christ. Only when we follow Christ can we truly understand what true love and love of family feels like.
Saint Paul persecuted Christians and following his conversion he went around persecuting the world with the Gospel of love. I like to call it, “The loving persecution”. It is persecution and hatred of the world unsullied by the stain of sin. He became a thorn in the side of his old Pharisee family. He annoyed them greatly with this new message of his, but it was to bring them back to Christ.
Saint Paul even changed his name from Saul to Paul such had been his desire to hate his own life and become a new creature. To literally despise the world and be eager to depart this miserable world is what it means to follow Jesus. All of us are called to hate the world and become a Holy nuisance like St.Paul. We are elected to go around prodding the world with our stick of the Gospel to get them out of bed and back to reality. Yes, Love is patient and kind but sometimes it can rattle your cage. Its message stirs the worldliness of your soul and that sort of rattling is needed to bring you back to your senses.
In the balance of gentleness and firmness (that Saint John the Baptist had) a man finds the Lord. If you’re following the Lord and your entire family aren’t disturbed by it. If you are not persecuting them with the loving message of the Gospel. . are you truly a disciple of Christ? These are questions we all ask ourselves.