Luke 14 v 26. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.”
This saying of Christ has often caused confusion for people because of the use of the word “hate”. But, of course, the New Testament does not use the word the way we do today. For us, the word ‘hate’ is filled with animosity, emotion and hostility. But that is not how Jesus uses the word. The word in those days, and particularly in the context in which Jesus uses the word does not mean “to be hostile to”, but rather “to give second place to”. It means to place everything else in a place subordinate to your commitment to Christ, even if you eventually lose it all. It means to prefer Christ to all other things, and indeed to all other people.
This seems an impossible request, but the truth is that thousands of people pay the price for following Jesus every day, suffering at the hands of their own family. Every day there are those who have to make the daily choice to be a disciple of Christ in spite of the opposition, hostility and abuse of their very own family.
It is a true fact that sometimes the worst opponent a Christian has to face is that members of his family turn out to be viciously opposed to any sort of faith in Jesus. Remember that everybody is born into this world in darkness and ignorance spiritually. Just because you as a wife, sister or daughter become a Christian does not mean that your new found faith will be welcomed at home. There is an inbuilt hostility to the Gospel in everyone’s heart and when a family member becomes a Christian that hostility is often turned at them.
Sometimes the new Christian acts as a prod to the conscience of other family members. Or it may be that a spouse who becomes a Christian may raise a certain insecurity in the partner. Or else it may be mere spite. Whatever the truth is, it remains a fact that often our worst detractors are members of our own family circle. Of course, it is not always so, for other family members may secretly hunger for what we have found, and eventually follow us as disciples of Jesus.
But Jesus’ call is for us to follow him no matter what our dearest friends and family may think. Let us be faithful and leave the consequences to Him.