A friend asks how the Bible reconciles when it has seemingly conflicting verses. Here’s a great example…
Luke 14:26 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.
1 John 3:15 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
One of the challenges with segmenting the bible into teeny, tiny little chunks called verses is that we tend to divorce snippets of ideas that were never meant to be pulled apart from the context around it, and/or the rest of the Bible. Let’s take a look, first, at the Luke verse in context…
25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “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. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
We now see that Jesus discussed the cost of becoming a disciple. I love these verses because they contrast so much with what many churches teach. “Easy believism” teaches us that if we just believe in God, we will go to heaven. By contrast, Jesus teaches that there will be costs associated with following Him. We may lose friends, family and, if we are like the disciples, we will lose our life. If we do not count those costs, we do not follow him.
So, does that mean we should hate everything our lives and relatives when we follow Him? Not exactly. If you bite an apple, you will generally find it sweet. However, if you eat a piece of rock sugar or candy first and eat the apple right after, it will taste sour. Why? By comparison, the sugar is much sweeter than the apple. After eating it, the apply does not taste sweet at all.
We should love God so much, that by comparison, our love for others looks more like hate. Our passion and zeal to serve Him must burn so brightly, that we should be willing at any time to lay down those other things in our lives that we cherish. Eleven of the twelve disciples died preaching Christ. They did not hate their lives, par se, but their love for Christ burned so brightly, that they held onto their lives very loosely. Consider these words from Paul.
Phil. 1.21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
Paul so loved God, that it was the primary focus of His life. If he lived, he served and glorified God. If he died, he would be with his savior. To an outsider looking in, it could certainly appear that Paul hated living. However, he simply loved God so much that his life because a secondary concern to wanting to glorify God in all that he does.
Read the verses from Luke above…focusing on the last couple. Jesus makes it clear that if we don’t love Him above all, we are not worthy of Him. Many in our country state they love God, yet, its clear that they have not counted the cost. What about you? Do you really love God more than your friends, your family and your hobbies? Do you talk about God as you would a new girlfriend or boyfriend? Do you seek to find out more about Him as you would a loved relative? Do you take time to talk to Him everyday as you would your family? Do you want Him more than you want to live? Be honest with yourself. If the answer to these questions is ‘no,’ you may want to spend time studying what God says… it might shock you.
Matthew 7 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Let me know if YOU have questions you would like to have me answer. May God bless you!