Skip to main content

Love - Hate Relationship

If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:26

There are times when I read the Gospels and wonder if Jesus didn't just get fed up with people misunderstanding Him, following Him for the wrong reasons, and just plain being silly. The verse above represents one of those times for me. Looking at those words one can only wonder if Jesus had simply had enough and laid into the people who were following Him just to see the next cool miracle. In the previous verse it says that "large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, if anyone comes to me..." you know the rest. Clearly Jesus wasn't up to speed on the current trends in mass evangelism and church growth strategies. That's right folks, Jesus used the word "hate" and He said if we don't we can't follow Him. It almost sounds like Jesus didn't want all those people following Him. Hmmmmmm, I wonder.

The fact is, large crowds of shallow followers who just wanted to see the next amazing thing or get the next blessing was never Jesus' goal. He was, and is, after people who will count the cost of following Him, buckle down and go with Him wherever He may lead. After He lays down that track about hating everyone who you're supposed to love the Lord goes on to explain that if we're going to follow Him we had better count the cost and be willing to give up everything for Him. This is a difficult teaching indeed.

To fully understand and better appreciate what Christ is teaching here we have to go back to the verse referenced at the beginning. Jesus is not telling us that we should literally hate our family. That would be utterly contrary to so many things He has already taught us, and will reveal to us through the New Testament. How are we to love God and love our neighbor (the two greatest commandments) and, at the same time, hate our family. That would be ludicrous and that gives us a pretty good idea that Jesus is speaking in hyperbole in Luke 14:26.

The kind of hatred that Jesus is speaking of here is a relative hatred. I understand that I may be making that term up but hear me out. What He is trying to get across to us is that if our love for Him isn't so great and overwhelming that every other love in our life seems like hatred in comparison, we don't love Him enough. Let me see if I can make this more clear. We use the word "love" for many things in our culture; food, games, sports teams, people, etc., etc. If you read one of my recent posts you know that, as far as cars goes, I love Corvettes. Now, if I compared my "love" for Corvettes with the love I have for my wife, my love for Corvettes would pale in comparison to the point that it would look like hatred. This is what Christ is teaching us.

Christ demands to be our first love. He will not accept second place, or even first place by a narrow margin. He wants to win the race for our hearts by a mile. Revelation 2:2-7 paints a clear picture of this truth. In this passage we have the letter John was to write to the church in Ephesus. In first bit of it God is commending the Ephesian church for their perseverance and discernment. He is basically giving them a divine pat on the back and praising them for the things they have gotten very right. However, He says this in verse 4;

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

Then He goes on to say that if they do not repent, and return to their first love He will remove their lampstand. In essence, "All those good things don't mean a hill of beans if you don't love Me above all else." Individually, or as churches, we can have all the right doctrine, theology, programs, good works and all of that but if our love of Christ is not the defining characteristic of our identity then it is all for naught.

Our love for the Lord is not something that is expressed only on Sunday morning, or Wednesday evening, or when we are doing a church sponsored service project; it is to be expressed in every part of our life. As with so many other things Christ Himself acts as our example for this kind of love. In Philippians 2 Paul give us some insight into the love of Christ that we are to embody.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the form of a bond-servant... Philippians 2:5-7.

I would be willing to bet that Christ was quite comfortable seated at the right hand of God being the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. However, His love for us was so complete that He was willing to empty Himself, lay aside all of those royal privileges and become a man for our sake. A good leader does not merely order those underneath him or her to do difficult things, they lead by doing the difficult things before their followers. If Christ demands our ultimate love then we can rest assured that He has paved the way, by example, in what that love is supposed to look like. If this incredible example of total love does not motivate us to return it, then I do not know what will.

Friends, Christ will not settle for partial love. He doesn't want to work out a visitation deal in a custody battle. He wants our heart, soul, and mind, our total being. If we are only willing to offer a portion of ourselves to Him we are not willing to follow Him at all. As we draw near to the celebration of the first coming of Christ let us remember the total and complete love that He showed us by becoming one of us and let us strive to return that love to Him.



Popular posts from this blog

Characteristics of a Godly Watchman Pt. 1: Vigilance

Most everyone has heard an alarm go off. It may be something as mundane as the alarm clock every morning that tells us it is time to get up and get ready for work, or it may be something as frightening as a fire alarm. No matter what the specific purpose of the alarm they all share one common theme: they are meant to alert people and warn them of impending danger.

In Joel 2:1 the Lord commands the prophet to; Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountainbecause the day of the Lord is coming. That is, God’s judgment is coming upon Israel for their sinfulness. Further along in the chapter, in verse 15, Joel is again commanded to blow a trumpet but this time it is to call the assembly of the people together so that they can, consecrate a fast. This tells us two important things about the role, or the duty, of the prophet of God. First, it tells us that the prophet is to act as an alarm to warn the people of God’s coming judgment. Secondly, the prophet is also to be the mo…

A Letter to Christian Girls.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Tonight my wife has been asked to speak to a group of Christian girls on the issues of dating, purity, relationships, etc. As part of that, the youth pastor of this church asked if I would write a letter to the group of young women from a guy's point of view. Now, I can't say as I remember ever having written a letter to a group of teenage girls but I do have some pretty strong feelings about the way our culture has portrayed love, marriage and particularly women. So, what I would like to do in this post is reproduce for you some of this letter. I may add some here and subtract some there but I want this to be my letter to all the Christian, young ladies out there.

What I want to do, through this letter, is share some things from a “guys” point of view because it’s no secret that we see things a little differently than you ladies do. You may think that all we think about …

My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter?

Have you ever seen that bumper sticker? The one that says "My boss is a Jewish carpenter." I certainly have and generally when I see it I quietly agree with the driver and take the encouragement that comes with seeing a fellow soldier in the Lord's army. Just this evening, though, I had a thought as I was driving home from Bible study. "Should Jesus be my boss?" Now before you go casting judgment on the thought let me explain what I mean. I propose that instead if being a "boss" we should be looking at God and Christ as "Master." I'll explain by looking at some differences in the idea of boss and master.

Difference #1: Why were you hired?

When an individual is hired for a job by an employer it is for a specific reason. Perhaps a particular skill, talent or level of education qualifies someone for a particular job. The employer hires the person that is the most qualified to fulfill the task. Granted, this is the way it is supposed to work. …