Why Does Jesus Tell Us
to HATE Everyone?
In February 2018, I wrote a blog post titled “Jesus Calls Us to HATE Everyone!” It was based on Jesus’ statement in Luke 14:26:
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.
In response, a reader named John recently wrote me this:
Luke 14:26 is a huge red flag. Clearly, Christianity is not a religion of love.
I would never choose to hate the people closest to me or myself so that some god’s massive ego can be fulfilled.
It’s crystal clear that any god that would require his followers to do such a thing is one very sadistic god.
The moment they read this verse, I’m amazed people don’t just close the Bible right then and there, hand it back to the preacher, and tell him, “No, we’re not doing this. You’re insane!”—and then walk right out the door.
You might want to reread that blog post HERE.
But for now, let me share with you how I answered John.
How would you answer him?
I’m so glad you felt free to comment on my blog post—especially this rather disturbing statement of Jesus (even for me). Here are my thoughts back to your very valid concern.
If I thought for a moment that the God I love (and who loves me)—the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—was in any way sadistic, I would flee with you. I might even beat you out the exit door!
So, based on the assumption you’ve made, if it were accurate, then you have made the right move—the only sane move.
However, I share the viewpoint of most Bible scholars that believe Jesus was using the word “hate” in this statement to highlight the radical extent of how I should look at, value, live for, commit to, and passionately pursue our Redeemer King.
Scriptures abound telling us of God’s love for us! And the same Jesus who spoke the words of Luke 14:26 also said the two greatest commandments were to love God with all our soul, heart, and mind and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). So then, would he really command the opposite—to hate people?
The scriptures are clear and repeatedly state that God’s Son is the one through whom the eternal, unbounded, sacrificial love of the God of creation flows to humankind.
Out of his great mercy and grace, Jesus laid down his life for all of us and, therefore, has become for us the source of our eternal salvation.
Consider these words from Romans 5:
When we were utterly helpless, with no way of escape, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners who had no use for him . . .
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since by his blood he did all this for us as sinners, how much more will he do for us now that he has declared us not guilty? . . .
And since, when we were his enemies, we were brought back to God by the death of his Son, what blessings he must have for us now that we are his friends and he is living within us!
Now we rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done in dying for our sins—making us friends of God.
If that’s not love, I don’t know what is!
Now, let’s go back to Luke 14. Surely, it’s clear: The verse in question is a literary device to make a dramatic point—Jesus is calling everyone who turns to him, trusts in him, and finds their eternal destiny in him to love him so totally that by comparison, it could seem to observers AS IF we “hated” everything and everyone else—including, you’ll notice, ourselves. All of this is merely by comparison.
The linguistic term for this is “hyperbole,” which is defined like this: “From a Greek word meaning ‘excess,’ it is a figure of speech that uses extreme exaggeration to make a point or show emphasis. It is the opposite of understatement.”
It is like you or me saying, “I’ve got a million things to do.” Or “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.” Or “If you keep that up, you will drive me mad.”
Jesus is making use of arresting exaggeration to make an unavoidable point regarding what should really matter the most if we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Actually, I should say not what but rather WHO should really matter the most.
Let me put it to you like this, John:
- IF Jesus is who he claims to be as creator, redeemer, and heir of all things;
- IF he is God in the flesh coming to us, among us, for us;
- IF he laid down his life to take my place by bearing my sin, my judgment, and my death as fully as the Cross proclaims;
- IF he conquered death to rise again, beginning a whole new creation that includes all he does in me;
- IF at this moment he “rules the world with truth and grace” (as the famous Christmas carol puts), sitting at the right hand of God, supreme over the universe and, therefore, over my life;
- IF this same Jesus will remain the purpose of my life for all ages to come as I live in him and for him, loving him, enjoying him, and serving him in resurrection glory—
THEN for sure, I should be propelled and consumed with my devotion for him in this life as well as the next—increasingly day by day.
The fact is that entering into this level of passion for our Redeemer is a glorious process for every Jesus follower.
You might say it unfolds like this for us:
The MORE I enter into a love relationship with Jesus Christ, the MORE I discover what real love is all about.
In other words, the MORE my love grows for him—which, in turn, keeps taking me into MORE depths of what his love for me is all about—the MORE my capacity enlarges to know and demonstrate his all-giving, life-giving kind of love to others.
And all of this is accelerated by the Holy Spirit of God, who saturates us with God’s love. Listen to what the Bible promises us:
for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love (Romans 5:5, TLB).
I don’t know if any of this makes much sense to you, John, or touches your deepest concerns.
But what I’m writing to you is the witness of countless millions of Christians down through the centuries. Like the ancient Irish hymn puts it in its first two lines (which is a prayer):
“Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me save that thou art.”
Or as Jesus said in Mark 8: “If you lose your life for my sake and the gospel [“lose” sounds like you “hate” yourself, doesn’t it?] you will find real life.”
If my focus on Christ fills all my heart in a way that seems to exclude all others but him, then he receives ALL my love—every bit of it. I lose myself for him; that is, I get lost in him!
However, I end up finding out what genuine “life” is all about. It is about God’s Son, who is Lord of all. That, in turn, involves spreading the gospel of his love to others, as I love them the way Christ loves them, doing so for his sake first of all.
And that way, they too can choose to enter into the same “exclusive” love relationship with the Jesus that I have found. But first, I must choose to love him so thoroughly that, by contrast, it seems AS IF I have pushed everyone else out of my affections.
Let me close by inviting you to go to www.ChristNow.com. Scroll down to and click on the icon for CHRIST ZOOM CASTS.
When you land on that page, scroll down to the archived Zoom cast titled “CHRISTIANS EVERYWHERE ON FIRE FOR JESUS!” It lasts only 30 minutes. There I share a whole lot more about this kind of extraordinary, all-consuming love that marks the “ordinary” Christian life.
Thanks again for being so blunt and transparent with me. I truly feel honored that you would take the time to write. I do empathize with your concerns. And there’s lots more I could say.
But for now, I pray that the Holy Spirit himself will show you who the Lord Jesus Christ really is and ALL he is. May God reveal to you the inexhaustible love he has for YOU, John.
In fact, let me pray for you and myself the prayer of Ephesians 3:14-19 (emphasis added):
When I think of the wisdom and scope of his plan, I fall on my knees and pray to the Father of all the great family of God—some of them already in heaven and some down here on earth.
I pray that out of his glorious, unlimited resources, he will give you the mighty inner strengthening of his Holy Spirit.
And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your heart, living within you as you trust in him.
I pray that your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love so that you may be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is.
I pray that you may experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it.
I pray that you will be so full of God’s love it will be like you are filled with God himself.
About the Author
Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.