Jesus begins with some very strong words: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).
Jesus was not advocating that in order to be disciples, we must actually hate family, friends, and ourselves. In this verse, Jesus was using sharp contrasts to make a point. Here He uses the word hate as the opposite of love. He did not choose something easily hated, like sin. Instead, He chose the most noble love we could have in this world—the love of family. He uses this analogy to show that our love for God must take pre-eminence over all others.
Your love for God should be so strong that your love for others is like hatred by comparison.
We see how personal relationships can conflict with the call of discipleship in Luke 9. There, Jesus asked someone to follow Him, but the man responds with this excuse: “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” (Luke 9:59)
Right there, a conflict arises. If He is truly Lord, then He is first, not us. This man was essentially saying, “Lord, let me wait until my parents grow old and die. I don’t want to create any conflict. I’ll follow You at a more convenient time.”
Jesus answered: “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60)
In this life, you either will have harmony with people and friction with God, or harmony with God and friction with people. You cannot have it both ways.
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Matthew 10:34-35).
You must decide which way it will go. If you choose harmony with God, the conflict you experience with others may ultimately lead to the awareness of their own need to find harmony with God.