Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 'Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.
I read this early this morning and found myself pondering. It's as if I've been skipping over this passage and moving on without understanding. I will never hate my mother. Nor my father, or my sister. Especially not my own children. That isn't how God made me, nor is God a hater. What kind of God would that be exactly who asks us to cast off humanity? I took it as hyperbole for loving God more than even family but have remained bothered by the implications left through the word "hate".
Today I found myself stuck on the hating "life itself" words. I thought of how Jesus is the giver of life, loves life, embodies resurrected life. In fact, we know He is the way, the truth, and the life. The contrast struck me between who Jesus is and what he is saying here. So what do these particular words mean? How could I hate life itself? It came to me to that Jesus never intended for us to hate life, because He is life. He only asks that if desperation to hold onto life gets in the way of loving, we should let go of our own life willingly. When I make a statement like, "That would kill me if..." without seeking Jesus, then I'm sunk. I've loved my way, my life better than Him. Therefore, it stands to reason, He also would never have us hate our family, but we must not desperately cling to their lives and let them go when God asks.
Don't get me wrong. When I prayed fervently that God would spare the life of my mother during her brain surgery some time ago, I don't think I was going against this scripture altogether. Yes, I wanted my way. Yes, it was selfish in that I didn't want to live without her on this earth. Yes, I was desperate. However, I know the position of my heart was that even if she did not make it or became irreparably brain damaged, I believed God was and is good and would make all things good through the tragedy. I wasn't attaching my faith to her life saying, "You better heal her God or else!" If my faith had been entwined with the outcome, I could have become bitter against God.
The battle for us all is that we allow God to be and stop trying to control. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that anything we try to control is sin. In which case, I sin a million times a day. For example, in my new home, things are broken and are taking a very long time to fix. I've actually been sobbing over a toilet (how dumb is that?) which has been "fixed" twice, replaced, and is still not working. Why sob? I'm actually worried noone on the face of the earth can or will fix it, and I'll have to live in a moldy, drippy, leaking, falling down house. How's that for lack of faith? Yet I've been consumed. In order to find peace, I must put on the mind of Christ and play the tape in my head that my friend Jenny, a lady construction manager (!), spoke to me, "Look, if I've learned anything from being in construction all these years, is that anything can be fixed." Putting that particular tape on repeat inside my brain is a way of intentionally letting go to find the peace I've unwisely traded for worry for a week now.
As for hating "life itself", I'll reflect on more ways I'm trying to control to let go, so I can get down to the business of real love.