Jesus had been sharing parables with a great number of people, and as confounded as the people were, they still followed him as he walked on. When Jesus turned and saw the people, he had these words to say…
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” LUKE 14:26
Obviously, the people had no plans of leaving Jesus soon. It was made clear in the above verse what Jesus expected of anyone who intended to follow him. But what did he really mean? How can anyone hate his own family? These are the very people we are closest to, they form our support systems.
First of all…
Who Is A Disciple?
A follower or by extension, a learner. Anyone who has taken it on himself to learn of Christ, is a disciple. By this definition, Jesus’ disciples go beyond the chosen twelve. In that regard, anyone who believes in Jesus Christ and strives to follow him is a disciple. This is the basis of our faith as christians; belief in Jesus as the son of God who came and died for us. Modeling our life after his teachings and learning of his ways.
What Does It Mean To Hate?
Hate as used here refers to loving one thing less than another.
How Do We Love Less?
We love less by showing less affection and giving less priority to. To love these things or people less than you will love God. Meaning, nothing should come between your relationship with the Lord. If put in a situation where you are expected to choose, your choice must undoubtedly be to choose God over these ones. He is in fact a jealous God.
Whom To Love Less; Why these people?
On the face of it, we can easily group the listed persons as parents (father and mother); siblings (brethren, sisters); family (wife, children, self). If it were so, Jesus would have said so. There would be no need to spell out different relationships the way he did. Saying it the way he did, meant there was more to it.
We will consider the original Greek words used. It is with the hope of unearthing what Jesus was actually referring to, if indeed he was referring to something else.
Father (patēr) – refers to an originator or ancestor. Many families have an ancestor they congregate under. Usually, it is an accomplished person in their lineage. Abraham is an ancestor for Christians, he is seen as the father of faith.
Mother (mētēr)– source of something; motherland. We easily grow to feel an allegiance to our home countries. The World Cup and olympics are testaments of this. Naturally, we desire to belong, and this nature fuels those world activities.
Wife (gynē) – A wife, a lot of times turns out to be an idol for many. Please note, wife here also refers to husband. People hardly marry someone they do not love or they grow to love their spouses. Therefore, there is the high tendency of offering more love and attention to a “wife”than to God.
Children (Teknon) – children, offspring This refers to biological children as well as adopted. It can also refer to children in Christ, people you may have led to and or are bringing up in the Lord. You should see a couple that has just had their first baby. The baby easily becomes an extension of their love for each other. Your children can easily divert your love from God.
Brethren (adelphos) – country man. Sometimes when people migrate to new places, they tend to find solace in befriending people from their home countries.
Sisters (adelphē) – sister Refers to a biological sister as well as a sister in Christ. It represents a sibling in this context.
Self (psychē) – soul, heart,. To be absolutely honest, this is the hardest part. We all have personal aspirations, life goals, bucket lists, etc. We also have needs; our bodies need rest and food among other things. God expects to be ranked first before your own needs.
What does it all mean?
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
2 Timothy 2:3
Following Christ is like becoming a soldier. As followers of Christ, the Lord requires us to emulate him with no distractions. The Lord wants our undivided attention and love. It is in this vain that Paul tells Timothy…
“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:4
Jesus does not want us to neglect our families and loved ones by the way. Even a soldier returns home after many months on a campaign. He rather expects to be our top priority. By this if you must choose between God and any other, you know what your choice should be.