Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When the World Calls You a Hater

"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 ESV

Many people consider this to be one of the more difficult verses in the Bible. Generally, commentaries define hate as "a lesser degree of love", meaning that we must love our families and ourselves less than we love Jesus if we want to be His disciples. That is a good understanding, but I believe it means more than just "loving less".

In his book, In Search of the Source, Neil Anderson tells about the years he and his wife spent translating the Bible into the language of an isolated, primitive tribe. When they came to this verse in Luke, his team of local assistants had as much difficulty with it as the rest of us. The words seemed plain enough, and the meaning seemed clear enough, but surely Jesus didn't mean what it sounded like He meant! As they struggled through this dilemma, God allowed a circumstance that answered their question.

This stone age tribe followed traditions and practices that had been handed down through the generations. We would consider many of these pagan and barbaric. One young believer was called on by his clan to fulfill his obligation to them as a male family member on one occasion. Participation would be a clear violation of Christian belief. Non-participation would anger his family. In the end, he chose obedience to Christ over pleasing his family.

This young man told the missionaries that he truly loved his family, but they were convinced he actually hated them. There was nothing he could say or do, no apology he could offer, short of going along with this ungodly practice, that would change their minds.

Sometimes we make choices because we honor and love God above all else. Sometimes those choices cause the people we love and care about to believe that we hate them.

The reason this topic has been on my mind is something I've seen on Facebook in recent weeks. The details aren't important--who or what or why. My motivation is to simply encourage anyone who is being called a hater because they had the courage to speak the truth in love. Don't let the world define for you what it means to be a hater.

Now, if you've been speaking the truth in some attitude other than love, well, that's a different matter altogether. I would encourage you to check out this link.

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