When Jesus said that we must hate our family and even our own life, if we are to follow him, what did he mean? Was he just having a bad day? Was he going for shock value? Is this one of the messages that caused many of his followers to leave him?
I think what he’s really trying to get across in an emphatic way is that we must follow him wholeheartedly and that we must be completely open to God’s presence in our life. We cannot serve God half-heartedly.
This sentiment is nothing new in the scriptures. In Deuteronomy we are called to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and might. We might not think it possible to give ourselves totally to God, but we see total dedication all around us, in people who give themselves totally to a profession or a cause. Think of doctors who give themselves totally to their work and patients; or athletes who leave it all on the field; or the pilot flying the plane you are on, who must be wholeheartedly into flying that plane. And the list goes on.
We each have our own way of following the Lord, our personal call. It is that call that we must follow wholeheartedly. For us it might simply mean dedicating ourselves to our profession or to our family and striving to live our Christian values in those settings. It might mean a sense of gratitude for our church and faith community. It might mean experiencing a sense of joy in God’s presence in our life. It might mean lending a helping hand to those in need. It could mean a number of things for you. Whatever it might mean, it is an invitation to enter into a personal relationship with the Lord and to experience his loving presence in a deep and personal way.
“I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)