|photo via flickr user Cherie Perrie aka iLuv|
My teacher offered these words as a humble confession, not an example of faith. I remember being dumbfounded by her confession because at that time I was not that happy about my busy, complicated, stressed out existence and the idea of Jesus coming back to set all things right and make all things new- well, that sounded amazing to me.
In the 8 years since I sat in that high school class, I have remembered this teacher's words again and again. Mostly because my life has gotten pretty good and I've found myself relating to her confession.
I've found myself loving my life.
Loving life is the goal of many, but it is not a goal the scriptures set before us. This is a hard truth, but one that will rapture our faith with conviction and purpose if we seek to understand it:
Jesus wants us to hate our lives.
In Luke 14 he speaks these impossible words:
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. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Verses 25,26)
Bible translators have aptly titled this section of Jesus' teaching, "The Cost of Being a Disciple."
This is a high cost. I love my parents, my siblings. I adore my husband. I am fiercely in love with my son. Jesus wants me to hate even my own life? The cost seems too high.
Yes, the cost does seem too high... until. Until we read it with a certain perspective. Until we read it in light of our love for God.
I believe that when Jesus calls us to hate our lives he is not calling us to a state of anger, resentment, bitterness, complaint or even apathy. I believe he is calling us to love him so much, that we are ready for his return. That we desire the end of our lives as we know it. That the lure of the new earth is far greater than our desire to live on this broken one.
Hating our lives means not that we reject enjoyment or contentment but that the satisfaction we find in earthly things is nothing in comparison to the hope we have for abundant life with God. It means that we put ourselves in the face of brokenness enough to know this world is not enough. It means that though our own lives might be pretty nice and comfortable, we still carry the burden of knowing millions of people around the world are suffering.
It means that every evening meal set before us is laced with prayers for the hungry.
It means that behind each moment of awe enjoyed near the top of a waterfall or the base of an autumn tree is a petition for the end of disaster, drought, and decay.
It means that the love and laughter we find in our families calls us to bend our knees in supplication for the brokenhearted.
The cost of discipleship is a constant inward groaning for the pure and universal presence of the Kingdom of God. And it is action spurred by the groaning.
We know that we desire the kingdom when we want it more than anything else. Do I want Christ to return more than I want our little man to come home? Do I desire life on the new earth more than motherhood? Can I truly say in heart that I would give up anything and everything to fully participate in the Kingdom?
Some days are better than others, but I'm not there yet. I pray that Christ convicts us all and teaches us how to hate our lives for the kingdom. May we truly, purely, and absolutely mean what we say when we pray, "Come Lord Jesus. Come."