Main Text: Deuteronomy 30:15-20 (Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-33)
The reading from the Gospel once again emphasizes the cost of following the Lord. We don’t like to think about a cost, but Jesus shocks the crowd and us when he says that to follow him we have to hate. How could this be? If God is love, then how can Jesus tell us to hate, and especially to hate those we love the most? To understand this, it is helpful to understand what hate is. Many see hate as the opposite of love. Actually, indifference and apathy are the opposite of love. Hate is grounded in the same energy as love but is out of step with true love embodied in Jesus Christ. Sometimes, our love can be out of step with the true love of Jesus Christ. Rather than correcting those we love and helping them to turn toward God and walk in His ways, our love becomes more concerned with what we might lose if we do. Maybe in telling us to hate those closest to us, he is actually admonishing us to love them with genuine love for them. This might come across as hate to those who receive it and might cost the one who loves in this way, but it is only this kind of love that is capable of leading to genuine love in relationship. It is important to understand the potential cost to love as Christ loved. It might cost you relationships to love this way. Is your deepest desire to walk in the ways of the Lord? Then it will take being willing to risk everything as Christ gave everything for us. However, only in Christ is there hope. The good news is that he paid the price for us. Now, it’s our choice to follow.