"If any one 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. - Luke 1:26These words are hard to hear, harder to speak, and hardest to understand when you've been taught that God is Love. How can He ask us to hate those we are called to honor, to hate those we are called upon to defend with our very lives if need be, to hate the life we are also called to treat as precious? The secret is how we behave toward things we hate.
Hatred causes us to reject something as unworthy of us, to put it aside and to leave it behind. If you hate your home, you can't wait to leave it. If you hate your family, you can't wait to get away from them. If you hate your life, you can't wait to change it. Those of us who are called to follow after Christ must be willing to treat our friends, our family, and our own lives as objects of our hate - willing and even eager to leave them behind if that is what we are called to do in order to serve Him. We must do this not because we truly hate them, but because it is the only way to ever come to truly love them.
As human beings, we are not capable of real love. Real love needs no motivation to do what is good, it simply does it. We are always in need of motivation, whether it is the simple satisfaction of knowing we have helped someone else or the reward of recognition, we crave it and we seek it. It's how our brains are wired. In order for us to become capable of real love, we must empty ourselves out completely and allow our lives to be filled with Christ. Christ then fills us with His presence, and He alone is capable of real love.
However, for us to be emptied, we must detach ourselves from what we hold most dear. We must be able to let go of our friends, our family, our possessions, our power, and our pleasures. The world will not make this easy on us. We crave human approval, it will be denied to us. We crave comfort, it will be denied to us. We crave recognition, it will be denied to us. Our choice to follow Christ will grind us down like sandpaper on the rough edges of a wood carving, smoothing us out and eventually shaping us into the image that Christ would have us carry.
Our hatred, then, is our barrier. It is our tool of detachment, allowing us to more easily choose Christ over those things which would divert our attention. Our lives can become centered around the source of all love, and by doing this we can become love in its truest form. I would like to say that I have found that place in my life where I truly hate everything for the sake of Christ, but I struggle to let go. I struggle to empty myself, and to abandon myself to Him. What Christ calls us to do is never easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it.