That’s a pretty tabloidy title for a God-oriented guy like me. Maybe not quite up there with “Flying Saucer Lands on White House Lawn!” But the thing is, it’s true. God doesn’t want to be number one in our lives. He wants to be the only one. That’s why he created us.
Sure, like polar bears in the desert, we might find a way to survive by (very carefully) living on cactus. For a while. But that amounts to living an artificial life, not the one we were made for. Are you ready for more?
Tabloid title #2: God Wants Us to “Hate” Everyone but Him!
Hey, don’t shoot me, I’m only the messenger. Jesus said, “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” (Luke 14:26).
True, Jesus often uses hyperbole (exaggeration), a common rabbinical technique, to introduce ideas. And he is indeed doing that here. So it would be accurate to say he means “hate” in contrast to our love for God. But wait, there’s more.
Tabloid title #3: God Created Us to Love Only Him!
The problem is, English has just one word for love (“I love my kids,” “I love pepperoni pizza”), and the New Testament Greek has at least four. So when (after telling us to hate our wives and children), Jesus tells us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), he’s using the Greek word agape, the only form of love that’s divine in origin. It’s the same kind of love we’re told God has for us (“For God so loved the world…”).
Yes, there are other forms of love (sensual, familial, friendship), but all of them are conditional and purely human in origin. None of them is powerful enough to restore our broken world.
So, when Jesus tells us to hate the people we care most about, even ourselves, he’s telling us to stop believing our half-baked human love is enough. Only when God is our only, our everything, are we transformed enough for God’s love to begin restoring the world through us. Only then is our love for those whom Jesus told us to “hate” transformed into perfect agape love.
Fellow polar bears: It’s time leave the desert, time to stop living on cactus and serving cactus to others, time head for true north. Because only when God is our only love…
Is our love enough.