"If anyone 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."
Wait a minute. Did Jesus say that being a Christian means that we have to hate our parents, our siblings and our children for Him? Off the bat, it appears that Jesus does, but the Bible should never be read "off the bat." In interpreting and understanding scripture, context is key and pursuing it is necessary.
The context of this conversation has very little to do with detestable hate and has everything to do with necessary sacrifices. When Jesus calls us to hate our families and even ourselves, what He's really talking about is the sacrifice that we must make when we follow Christ. The word hate used in this scripture is the Greek word "misos" which by extension means to love less. When faced with the decision of following what your parents or what you want for your life and what Jesus wants, Jesus wants us to consider our desires and the desires of even our closest relations as inferior to what He desires.
But in no way does God call us to hate our family or to hate anyone for that matter. In Exodus 20:12, God commands us to "...honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you." 1 John 4:20 even tells us, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen."
What Jesus calls us to do in Luke 14:26 is not to detest people, but simply to hold Jesus as preeminent in all things. Preeminent is best defined as surpassing all others and being very distinguished in some way. In our lives, Jesus must be clearly defined as surpassing everything else in our life, even our family.
If you've ever watched basketball, you know how exciting games get when score disparity between opponents is lowest. That's why close games are so fun to watch. Well, God is not interested in His place in our life being a close call like the exciting basketball game. He wants to be preeminent, being clearly surpassing in every area of our life. Colossians 1:18 says, "And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent."
How preeminent is Jesus in your life? Are you ready to desire less the things you want and even the things your family wants for the sake of following Jesus Christ?