Wednesday, November 12, 2014

exaggerations of semitic language

“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."
We hear this passage and we're always like: Whoa! Hold up there, Luke. Are you sure you heard that one right? Because I didn't think hate was really a part of this whole Jesus-thing. Hate doesn't sound right to me. This has got to be a typo... Jerome! Jerome, what did the original say? before you stomped all over the sweet Greek with your vulgar Latin conjugations.
But I think this is one of the most beautiful and romantic passages in all of the New Testament. For it reveals the central unity of who God must be for us. "A jealous God" we call Him, because the only other demand we can imagine that remotely resembles that of Christ's is the demand of a lover who selfishly wants all of us for himself.

But this is where our human imagination is limited in scope: when we hate all else: when we resolutely turn our backs on and reject everything else in our life, pursuing recklessly and whole-heartedly the Triune God of love, then we will find that we actually have more love to give. Then, truly we can begin the journey of learning to love. Tearing down our golden calves is not the work of one moment, but it is the journey of a disciple's life: to learn to slowly and surely dismantle all that we would put in the place of God.

When this Trinity is at the heart of our world: the lover, the beloved, and the love between them, then we will find ourselves poured out for others, when we least expect it. When, perhaps we would rather keep to ourselves. But by putting God at the center, we have opened our lives up, our hearts up to not only those that we do love and cherish, but to those for whom we might not harbor natural affection. If we hate all others, and dedicate our love to God, then all of our paltry human hates, quarrels; dislikes and disagreements, must evaporate under the heat of the infinite demand of love.

And life is sweet, as one of the hated ones. It is very great gladness to find oneself rejected for the sake of the Gospel. Rejection usually stings so sharply--like acid, like fire, like stepping on a hundred hornets all at once--but to be hated for the sake of Christ is an honor. When we find ourselves cast aside, because there is a God who demands the whole-hearted worship and our entire selves, that is a Joy. It is, perhaps, rare, but when found, altogether precious and perfect.

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