I was sharing stories with a close friend a few weeks ago. We were both talking about our life journey and the events that have led us to be the people we are today. We shared stories about our families and the paradox of our love for them, combined with our strong desire to walk away from their embrace, when we came to the realisation (and acceptance) that their embrace came with many conditions attached. One condition being that they accepted us only when we played along with their desired perception of ourselves.
They had accepted our false self, during that time in our life when we had denied our true self, by refusing to step forward and stand openly with pride, as same gender loving men. In our conversation, we talked about the various masks we had worn over the years; yearning to be accepted & belong, and at the same time, longing to release our authentic self and live our own life.
As we shared stories, I recollected a verse from the bible in Luke 14:26 where Jesus says, “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”. Whilst I do not, at this point in my life, subscribe to an organised religion, I do recognise the wisdom that is contained in the many traditions and world faiths. That was one of the things that drew me to becoming an Interfaith Minister – anyway, I digress and that’s all another story. Back to the verse…..
To me, this verse is about travelling on ‘the road less travelled’. ‘Hate his father and mother…’, means letting go of the familiar and known, living life by being awake – by making conscious choices. Being a ‘disciple’, in this instance means a follower of the Truth – living an authentic life, through the realisation and acceptance of our true self. Yes, this is certainly a challenge, for leaving the known path, ‘the road most travelled’ – i.e. our family, friends, traditions, our patterns and who we thought we were – might mean rejection, exclusion, persecution and/or shaming; pain and a death to our old way of being.
This scripture is a type and shadow of Christ-likeness. To be Christlike, one has to be ready to shed old ways of thinking and embrace new ones. “Hate his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters,” is a call to detach from status quo. And the greatest status quo in our lives would be the attachment to our own family values and those things that seemingly give us our comfort or a sense of hope. This is a progressive scripture contrary to what it seems. It’s a call to open our minds, leave dogmatism and follow the truth. In summary, it’s a classic axiom of TO LIVE IS TO DIE. I want to believe that most Christians today are ready to die to old ways of things. Hence, institutions and denominations take over the call to discipleship. Being a disciple comes with the discipline of learning new truths. A true disciple of Christ is not bigoted but is ready to hate his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, and his own life. Aptly put by Paul in Romans 1217-19 “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” – Anonymous
My interpretation would be Jesus was explaining self-sacrifice. He was saying that they must be dedicated to him solely. He wanted them to have an uninhibited passion for him and the work that comes along. – Andrew
I believe things should be taken within the context it was said. If you read the verse just before (Verse 25), it says there were a lot of people following Jesus and he turned around and made the statement in verse 26. Now Jesus was a crowd puller. He was eloquent, intelligent, offered an alternative way of thinking and if some historians are to be believed a phyne well-defined young brother with flowing locks! It maybe he said it for crowd control – health and safety and all that! On the other hand, I think Jesus was saying to be a disciple, one has to forsake everything including loved ones and put Him first. He was just saying, being a disciple is not an easy ride and those who want to follow him will undergo serious aggravation and prosecution. Their family may ask them to leave the fold but they will have to refuse. Then family disobedience could have read as “hatred” for family in those times. – Jay Myke
On my first read, I read it as ‘If I don’t hate anyone, whosoever, I cannot be a follower/disciple of Christ’. Which to me is shocking, cause it suggests contrary to what I understand to be a fundermental teaching of the bible, ‘love one another, the community of mankind et al’. And if that is what the verse is actually saying then it says to me, there has to be yin and yan, good and bad, right and wrong for the balance to be held. I actually think its a very human/humane look at humanity, the way I saw it – that to be true to yourself, you must acknowledge both the good and the bad, the humanity, frailty and reality of what it is to be human, not the righteous or goodie two shoes approach that’s flaunted about. – Ng’ethe
From my understanding, My God is a loving God and the verse is not necessarily to hate in the literally meaning, it simply means to fix your heart solely on him, loving him more than any other for he created us. Human beings are selfish, the flesh has needs and we go out wanting to satisfy that need which takes our attention away from the very source of our being, hence it was interpreted in this form (we are not to love anything or anyone more than him, however we cannot love anyone without loving him first for he is love). Disciple —— Follower, and this does not only refer to Christians, its to all flesh. – Anonymous
My literal understanding of this verse is that to be a disciple of Jesus, you needed to forsake all else no matter what these things meant to you. Christian’s believe that only through Jesus Christ (accepting him as your lord and saviour) can you reach God Almighty. All else is secondary, and you must be willing to forsake and sacrifice these things if required by God. In this modern-day, how and when you will know that this is being requested of you from God is another question. Serving God through him (Jesus) is the ultimate sacrifice. Similar to the way that Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. This was a test to see who was most important to Abraham – his son Isaac or God the Almighty. Abraham did not hesitate and chose God Almighty despite his paternal love for his son. Abraham was about to sacrifice his son before God stopped him in his tracks and provided a lamb instead. Therefore in a nutshell, for a practising Christian, they are not ultimately answerable to man or human beings, but they are answerable to only one spiritual alpha and omega – God himself and the channel to him his through Jesus Christ his only begotten son. – Paradox
I look at this passage as a call to total and radical detachment from one course to be able to fully dedicate oneself to another without distraction and regret. In reference to Jesus, I have always seen this phrase as the challenges probably faced by his followers, who during their time were seen as outsiders because of their dedication to the radical teachings and reality of Christ Jesus. The word ‘hate’ could be interpreted as what it takes someone to follow Christ who could probably be torn between family pressure and choice of salvation challenging the traditions and values as at the time of Christ. It is an opposite of ‘love’. Why would a person have to hate his family to follow Jesus? It is because Jesus’ radical moves were just not in line with the traditional move of his time. He was not going to change and the society would not nudge or budge.
For us in the homosexual community, it takes some of us to totally sever family ties to become our authentic selves. A friend of mine on Facebook just claimed about 5 members of an organization I belong to as his brothers, leaving out his own immediate family. Could we possibly create such an atmosphere for each other in the African gay communities we belong to? – Become brothers and sisters, family to each other in order to advance values inherent in our nature which the African community and some so call followers of Christ would not get or give us? The option is there for us to do just that, even if it means severing ties with immediate family circle, (a difficult step indeed – it is a call to hate, without intention of doing harm). – John
To release our authentic self and live from a place of congruence means letting go of family & friends, patterns and traditions that are blocking the path to our true and sacred self (our Christ consciousness). Yes, this is the road less travelled and in travelling down that road, I have come to learn that it takes courage and commitment to stay on the path. I am not an expert in travelling down that road, but I am lucky enough to have such amazing people in my life (aka my family of choice), who gently remind me of my authentic self in those moments when I seek to abandon myself for the warm conditional embrace of another person or thing. I have also learnt (and continue to learn) to forgive myself for those moments of uncertainty, shame, fear or insecurity, when I go down the familiar roads of my past and cling to my old way of being. Life, what a journey!
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