“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.”
I currently live some distance from my family. Whilst I live in London, my parents, brother and sister, grandparents, most of my aunts, uncles and cousins live in East Anglia. As a consequence, I don’t get to see them quite as much as I would like. I’m very fortunate, however, to share a holiday home with my immediate family, which we tend to use quite a lot in the summer months. On a hot, sunny weekend, there can be quite a few of us there, and it’s a great time to catch up with them.
As someone who is quite close to my family, today’s verse struck fear in my heart before I fully understood what it meant. Surely Jesus cannot expect us to hate our families; surely this contradicts the overwhelming message of love we find in the gospel? Well, I understand that in this verse “hate” actually means “love less.” Jesus is telling his followers that they must love their families, their partners, and themselves less than they love him. That’s still quite a challenge. I love my family a great deal, and I love my wife even more. Jesus says that if we are truly to be followers of him, though, we must love him even more than these!
Once again, some difficult words today. Perhaps you’ll join with me in praying that my love of Christ will continue to grow day by day as he strive to follow him more and more closely.