What a statement! Sometimes we get lost in the semantics of passages like this one. We begin to ask questions or make statements like, “How could Jesus ask me to hate people?” or “I guess I just shouldn’t care about or invest in relationships.” Yet if the latter remarks are what we walk away with from this passage then we have truly missed it! Jesus uses the word hate, which in the greek is “miséō.” According to Strong’s concordance, this word refers to the idea of “loving someone or something less than someone (something) else.” Jesus is not calling us to hate those around us, but to radically love Him far more than any other thing or person. Remember the context of Jesus’ words! He declared that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and the second greatest commandment is similar, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40). The way we love people is truly a gauge, not only of our love for God, but also the extent to which we have received His love. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). This call to be His disciples is a call to be a lover of Jesus. It is a call to love Him above every other person and every other thing. We know these simple realities, but are they actually evident in the way we live and the choices we make? Are we waking up each morning with a heart that says, “Today is your day Jesus, not mine.” When your mom asks you to do the dishes over break, when a sibling is short in their response to you, when a friend cancels on you yet again, what is your response? Do walls of defense or annoyance begin to erect or are we moved with the compassion of Jesus to love Him BY loving those around us? If we truly love Him more than anyone or anything then the absence of such things, the broken and hurtful responses of people, and the disappointment that comes will not break us. We are grounded in His love and our position as lovers of God.
Read Luke 14 and answer the reflection questions to help you process the passage.