So, who do YOU hate? Your mom, dad, husband, wife, significant other, son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin, aunt, uncle…Really, who do you hate?
Trump, Clinton, Bin Laden, and many others have been (or are) hated. It could be because of politics. It could be because they murdered people. It might be something that you think they may have done.
This passage in Luke is a hard passage for many. Except in cases of abuse or other mistreatment, hating one’s family is out of the question. A religion that has long considered itself (especially in the West) a “family-centered” religion will struggle that which it says it is based upon. “Family values”, a decades-old purportedly Christian value, are questionable if we are to hate our family.
Then John, a disciple of writes that we are to love our brothers and sisters, and that anyone who hates their brother or system is a murderer (even if said brother or sister still lives), and because of that they don’t have eternal life. Confused, yet?
So, how does this work, exactly? Well, we’re back to the age-old problem of English versus Greek. Just like there are more words for love in Greek than in English, there’s the same problem with hate. Hate isn’t quite hate, sort of.
When Jesus talks about hate, it refers more to loyalty that like, dislike, love, or hate. Jesus sought to shock people into an understanding that they may have to choose where their loyalty lay. Was their loyalty with family, or was their loyalty with Jesus?
Hate may seem overly dramatic, however, in the cultural context, hate was the understanding. Only a hateful child, parent, spouse, and so forth would choose Jesus over family. In that time, the time shortly thereafter, and it appears now, family loyalty is against Jesus.
Which brings us to John’s words. His hate is more along the lines of what we think of when we hear the word hate. The kind of hate that blindly rages and cares more about hurting another than blessing the enemy. This is the context of John’s hate.
We are called to pray for the blessings of our adversaries. Even more so are we to seek the benefit of our brothers and sisters in Christ. John’s primary concern is not the family ties of blood and culture that Jesus brought to light. John’s concern was what we at Generations call framily (friends who are like family).
This framily is found within the body of Christ. Because of its place within the body of Christ, it should not have divided loyalties. Of course, when it comes to human frailty, we all know that isn’t the case.
As we work through our hopes and fears of COVID and elections, we will often be tempted to hate our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must strive against that, for a house divided against itself will not stand, and then what would we say to Jesus?
Jesus, you prayed to the Father that we would be one. Help us to be united in you, while we yet still remain individuals with different thoughts and experiences. Amen.
1) Is there someone in the body of Christ with whom you are angry? Pray for them. Ask for the peace of the Holy Spirit to fall upon and fill both them and you.
2) How can you work to be one with your brothers and sisters in Christ while you have differing opinions?
3) How does the concept of Jesus before family still cause you and others trials?