There’s in fact a number of seemingly bizarre statements that Christ made during His earthly ministries that sound very unhuman and unreasonable. That’s why those who are unsaved who cannot grasp what Christ truly meant label Him as an extremist, or someone who has lost touch with reality. While these statements may not make any sense at all from a humanistic perspective because they are inconsistent with how we operate in this world; however, they do possess powerful spiritual truths hidden into them that transcend human understanding.
Whatever statement that Christ made has a unique context and meaning, so the ideal way of getting at the bottom of a particular statement in order to get a clear insight regarding its initial meaning and context is through figuring out why, who was being addressed, what was going on at that time, and what was the pervasive mindset or system that was in place when such statement was made. So let’s read that Scripture verse found in the book of Luke where Christ declared a hatred that should be aimed at our very own family members as well as our own life if we really want to become His disciple.
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).
There are several ways this verse can be interpreted, but we’ll look at it through the lens of the Judaism system which was so prevalent during Christ’ ministries. To a large extent this statement has a strong connection to the Judaism system that had long been established very firmly. So people were so engulfed by it to the extent they were even willing to put to death anyone who even attempted to challenge it. That’s the key reason why Christ found Himself in a huge conflict with such system all throughout His ministries.
And Christ actually came in order to revolutionize the whole system since it was incomplete and insufficient in order to grant man favor and acceptance from God. According to the gospels’ accounts, that very system tried to kill Jesus in several different occasions due to their constant unwillingness to accept His claims about Himself.
Furthermore, it was pretty obvious that parents in this day raised their children to follow that very system. Having said that, anyone who has made a choice to follow Christ would have found himself being profoundly at odds with that system. Let’s put that within perspective, if you were living in such system with your parents and siblings, and have made a choice to give your life to Christ, your parents would have had a very tough time accepting that decision since you’re forsaking the very system you were raised to believe in.
You would have also run into serious troubles with your siblings since the new life you would have to live would literally bring a massive conviction upon them. Consequently, they would have never been comfortable with you. The truth about this passage is to enable us to understand the cost of discipleship.
What Christ Actually Meant by Declaring That You Must Hate Your Parents And Siblings.
First, this statement isn’t meant to be taken literally because Christ wasn’t really saying that you must hate your parents along with your siblings in the context of hating the person. However, what He’s saying is that you have to hate their own ways, their mindsets, their false belief systems, and their attitudes and behaviors when it comes to them becoming a major stumbling block that stands between you and Him and His cause. The way Christ wants us to see it is when it comes down to Him and us there cannot be anyone or anything right between, regardless of how dear and precious someone or something may be to us.
In fact, God has never told anybody to direct any form of hatred toward an individual in a literal manner, which means hatred must be directed toward how a person behaves. You love the person and hate their sinful and rebellious ways. In other words, you love the person but hate their sins.
There is also another vital interpretation that can be applied to that passage because the word hate according to numerous contexts it’s used in Scripture can be defined as ‘Love less’. It’s very important for us as believers to realize that Christ must always come first in our lives. We must love Him above everything else. We must value Him more highly than the very people whom we love on this earth. This is something that Christ requires of us because nobody else can ever do what He’s done for us. And no one is able to give us what He has given us.
Whomever we allow to decide how we should serve Him, whomever we allow to become an obstacle concerning us responding to His calling and purpose for our lives gets to occupy the place that He Himself should have occupied in our lives. Christ must be preeminent in everything we do since He is our Savior and Lord.
What Christ Meant by Declaring That we Must Hate Ourselves.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me (Matthew 16:24).
The fundamental of following Christ and living for Him alone is built on self-renunciation. This is where the concept of dying to self comes heavily into play (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:5; Romans 6:11). Following Christ is no longer us trying to do things according to our own ways but His ways. Following Christ is all about us forsaking our old ways by embracing His own unique way of life. In other words, we give up everything by embracing everything He gives us.
By the way, Christ has given us a very powerful example regarding how to live a life pleasing to God by always putting His Father and His cause first. He didn’t come to make a name for Himself, to glorify Himself, and to live a life according to His own ways but to please and glorify His Father in everything He does. He lived a life based on total submission and humility to God the Father.
So the essence of the Christian life is humility and submission. That’s the kind of life that Christ wants us to live in response to what He has done for us. Hating ourselves means hating our own ways of doing things, hating our own sinfulness to the extent we want to starve it by ceasing to follow its massive impulses. Additionally, hating ourselves means laying aside our own ambitions, our own personal interests, our own mindsets, and whatever pertains to our sinful nature.
That hatred has to do with anything that can stand between Christ Jesus and us. Anything that can potentially become an impediment concerning us taking up our cross. Anything that can keep us from ever be whom He wants us to be in Him. Lastly, anything that can keep us from committing ourselves fully to whatever assignment He has called us to.
Christ understands that following Him isn’t an easy undertaking since His requirements defy how we want to operate as human beings in a realm in which we need relationship with our fellow human beings. Nonetheless, He’s calling us to hate, reprioritize, or abandon anything deemed precious to us, or anything sinful that we have a strong attachment to.
Even if our relationship with our loved ones as well as our friends is something that we need, but He desires for us to place Him first by valuing Him more. Why? What matters is Him, His will, His calling, and His purpose, not our relationships with our fellow human beings. Lastly, our human relationship has no eternal significance.
I wasn’t planning on writing this post. It’s going to be a long one, so thank you if you decide to read it. I’ve heard stories like mine many times in the past and to be frank, I never believed them. I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me but I am compelled at the moment to write it.
It was 2006. I was in high school, agnostic and suffering from depression. I was too smart for my own good and frankly an insufferable turd. I was attending my parent’s church out of obligation. My father had recently converted and my mother began studying theology (she has her Master of Divinity now) three years prior.
On March 1, 2006, I suffered a horrible nightmare. I barely understood it at the time and it was completely foreign to my mind. At that age I was regularly having lucid dreams and I remembered my dreams very well. This one came out of left field and as stupid as it sounds, I never believed that it came from my mind. It felt like the dream lasted for days. This dream has kept me up many nights over the last decade and I have yet to forget it.
I jolted from the nightmare on its conclusion and suffered what I can only describe as a panic attack for the next two days. I had locked myself in my room and refused to have a conversation with anyone or eat. My parents thought I was sick and left me alone. My brain kept replaying the nightmare over and over, trying to understand it. It was completely foreign to me.
To summarize the dream without writing a novel (as you’ll see below), I was in Hell. It was not an image of Hell I had ever seen before. The only visions of Hell I possessed at that age were the fire and brimstone version and the black nothingness version. It felt real beyond anything I had experienced in a dream before and is the single most terrifying thing my brain has witnessed.
I became obsessed with the possibility of an afterlife and didn’t want to end up with what I had just witnessed. Over the next several years I became obsessed with theology, history, world religions, near death experiences, prophecies, anything to help me understand what I witnessed. I spent countless hours debating theology as an agnostic on various forums, attempting to find out what I believed in.
Eventually, I discovered Christ. When I was 19, I was baptized at my parent’s church (I became a member shortly after). I’ve stumbled a lot in my walk with God but he has always stuck with me.
The last two months in my relationship with God have gone incredibly well. I’ve been able to open up to him in my prayer and forgive those in my past who I never thought I could forgive. Through prayer, he helped me quit smoking, a habit I picked up from an abusive relationship I had once suffered. I had tried to quit several times before, but never did I ask for his help because I was never ready to actually quit. With his help, I finally did.
He has transformed my life and I can say with full honesty that I do not recognize who I once was a decade ago. My relationship with God is worth more than anything else I have and I imagine I will have a whole eternity to be grateful for it. I’m a good place with God right now and I look forward to the coming years.
With all of that context established, I can get to why I’m writing this. A few days ago, I was compelled to read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.
I’ve seen this book mentioned many times on this subreddit and I was already familiar with C.S. Lewis’s work, primarily Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters. It’s a great book and a short read. I highly recommend it. However, it leads to the point as to why I’m writing this.
I dreamed The Great Divorce in 2006.
I dreamed that I was stuck in the Hell described by C.S. Lewis. I visited various stores and I waited for the same bus. I was spoken to by a spirit of a person I once knew, trying to show me Heaven. I rejected her. I not only rejected her but I hated the spirit so much that I tried to kill her. I tried to sink a dagger I had conjured into her back before ending up back in Hell. I spent what felt like days in that Hell before waking up.
Lewis nailed down the details which I saw and experienced, down to the fight at the bus stop, the eternal evening twilight and the rain. I knew what was happening the second I started reading Chapter 2. I had seen this world and allegory before.
I’ve known God long enough to not accept most events as mere coincidences. What happened to me appears to be beyond a coincidence because what happened to me is impossible. Aside from being an unwritten character, I witnessed what C.S. Lewis wrote 60 years before. I had never seen the book before, no one had ever talked to me about it and I had never witnessed that view of theology (albeit in allegory) or Hell before.
It’s the ultimate joke. 10 years ago, God gave me the dream which drew me to him. Now he shows me that the dream that changed my life was a telling of one of C.S. Lewis’s bestselling books from another perspective.
I’ve had a few days to recover from this discovery. I’m not sure what to think about it. I’ve prayed a lot since opening the book but I’m still at a loss. What do you say or think when you’ve witnessed the seemingly impossible?
As I said at the beginning, I don’t expect anyone to believe me. I said before that I’ve rejected believing these kinds of stories before. I need help understanding what I just witnessed. I’m at a loss.
Thank you for reading.
Edit: I want to thank you all for the incredible support and insight you’ve all been offering. It’s been an interesting few days for me to say the very least. I’ll continue to make an effort to respond to every comment which comes in. You’ve all been very helpful and for that I am truly grateful.
Edit 2: /u/andmoreagain posted a short story in this thread from Philip K Dick. I may not agree with all of his conclusions but it’s eerily similar to mine. Thank you for sharing!
- I feel an inevitable pull towards Christ
- I had a dream of Christ… it was dark and stormy and when Christ appeared.. nothing but blue skies
- I’ve heard voices about Christ
- B.W. Melvin’s work is convincing to me
- I do believe that God exists, in my heart
- They have the best music 😉
The dream also instructed me of something important, that my belief is a PERSONAL belief that comes from within, not an intellectual belief that comes from without (analyzing the seemingly godless universe).
Hi all, thank you for the review. I’ll try to answer some of your questions as best as I can. I have been on the road for the past 8 days on a ministry trip and radio interview at several Churches in South Dakota and returned late Monday night at home. Saw many come to know the Lord, amen.
In regards to the people I saw in the Pit receiving just recompense in fair degrees according to the principles found in the bible regarding reaping what one has sown, I tried to convey the truth about their eternal state. First, it is eternal and by this I mean the following…
God will not deny himself. He gave a gift from his own being to humanity, called life (Gen 2:7c). The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29c principle). The Lord placed eternity in our hearts Eccl 3:11 and Eccl 3:14 verifies. The wise woman spoke in 2 Sam 14:14c a central truth – though we die (our mortalness dies) God will not take away life; and yes, God through Christ Jesus makes the only way that a banished one can return back to God, thru the grace of the cross. There is no other way.
So, we do continue on after we die, not in soul sleep, or rest, but as the Hebrew words in the OT imply as shades – our spiritual essence of who we are continues. Though God can certainly annihilate life into non-existence as Job 34:14, 15c states but as 2 Sam 14:14 states, God will not take away life he gave. Fore, if he did so, he would in essence deny himself and prove himself a lair and not really God almighty. He would be forced to go against his own life giving character/nature – hence deny himself.
God did not annihilate the devil for his rebellion, did he? Why? God will not take away life. The devil knowing this rebelled and tempts God to unjustly destroy in order to be able to exalt his own throne above God’s. Sin entered the universe in a limited degree through the Devil and his minions and God designed the current pit of hell for them as Matt 25:41 states. God does not take away life – his gifts and callings are irrevocable. God keeps and performs his word.
This brings us to the reason why fallen human beings will suffer just recompense in Hell. We were designed as eternal moral beings. Fallen humanity lost the eternal life with God and face eternal condemnation banished forever away from the eternal life of God. What God does is forever.
People complain that everlasting punishment for finite sins is unjust. However, such fail to realize that since human beings share a gift of life breathed into us by God who placed eternity in our hearts, a fallen human being’s sin is NOT FINITE it is eternal (Job 34:11, 12c) because they were fashioned by God to be eternal. For God to annihilate into non-being would in essence be unjust for HIM to do as it goes against his own character and nature (Job 34:10c).
Billy Grahams’ daughter, Anne Graham-Lotz mentioned in the History Channel TV show, Hell the Devils Domain, that in hell are just levels of recompense. Jesus stated this concept as well in Luke 10:13, 14, 15, 16c. Theologians mention this as well – just degrees of recompense. This is precisely what I saw, and what people do not understand regarding this instead dare/demand God to act contrary to who He is (Deut 32:4, Psalms 97:2). Thus, they unknowingly fall right into the devil’s ploy to demand God to act contrary to the foundations of God’s throne (note Psalms 97:2c again) and thus overturn God’s rule (Isaiah 14:13, 14, 15c). So reader, which side are you on?
There is no such thing as Finite Sins due to our spiritual nature fashioned to live eternally. Therefore. The principle of what one sows they reap mentioned throughout the bible is true. That is what I saw happening in hell to the people there: their personal sin nature was slowly being uncovered much like how you peal layers off an onion, until the real spiteful being is revealed totally committed to sin and rebellion. The slow pealing of an onion takes time and thus helps understand why there are just degrees of recompense.
People also say God is a torturer, yet, the bible clearly states God is not the one who tortures. Do you see God in the account of Richman and Lazarus in Luke 16:20-31c? Also Rev 14:11 states its one’s own torment that torments. Now note the principle found in Psalms 9:16. God’s wrath is poured out and whatever God does (regarding context of justice/life/judgment/promises/gifts) endures forever.
His wrath uncovers the real person who and what they really are, beings who after entering the eternal gain understanding of what this means, would always seek to abuse and manipulate/pit God’s own Goodness against itself so they remain in sin. That is what I saw and tried to convey in my book. Those in hell would make the only perfect upright land, Heaven, into a corrupt place, like it is on earth now just as Isaiah 26:10. So, the current hell was designed as a temporary holding center as Isaiah 24:21, 22 helps to reveal and Jesus mentions in Matt 25:41c: For the Love of God will banish those that reject him, justly and fairly, with no violation of trust, gifts, etc, to them or to God’s own nature/character.
Parts of Hell are described as a bottomless pit (Rev 20:3 KJV) or as a pit. Other parts of the current hell are also described as to be avoided at all cost (Deut 32:22. Nahum 1:2, 3, 6c, of fire and darkness and place of no rest Isaiah 48:22c).
However the current Pit of Hell is described in Ezekiel 26:20, Ezekiel 31:16, 17, 18 and Ezekiel 32:21,23, 24, 25-31 NKJV. As being round, with Hebrew word – qeber – imbedded in the pits’ walls and the Hebrew word qeber means a grave, tomb, a sepulcher, chamber, or small cell of living cognizant grief, sorrow, travail. Proverbs 7:27 speaks of chambers, rooms, enclosures in the current Hell as well to be avoided at all cost.
What is going on inside these cells/graves, tombs, chambers, is what Job 26:5-6 is conveying, “The departed spirits tremble under the waters and their inhabitants. 6 “Naked is Sheol before Him, And Abaddon has no covering” NASB
The Hebrew word tremble describes living cognizance of trembling whirling, shaking, fearing, to writhe, to grieving etc… The idea of water is the great pressure one feels when underground. For those who have toured the Hoover D-m understand the pressure one feels at the bottom and those who scuba dive understand what pressure is felt in 45 to 100 feet of water. This is being describe in the text – great pressure that is doing something.
This something is mentioned in verse 6 as being naked before God in the current Hell (sheol) because the ruin there uncovers a person’s real them. Much like pealing the union I spoke of earlier. This is done because God’s Love leaves no stone unturned in meting out the reason for banishment away from the presence of God to a person. They are made aware of their damage done in mortal life will not be tolerated in Heaven. God is not mocked.
What one sows, they reap. There is not one perfect good person on this planet. All have sinned and abandoned God’s Loving ways and tempt God, and manipulate, and try God’s goodness and love as evidenced by how we live our mortal lives. Only in this mortal life, now, we can return to God’s Love and goodness and learn how not to abuse it for our own gain. God demonstrates his goodness, love, by calling out to a fallen world in order to allow morally reasoning beings to morally reason themselves in all impartial fairness to decide to return to God who loves so much that He sent Jesus Christ to bear our sins upon the cross and expose our sins in us so we can return to a greater paradise God had planned before the foundation of the world.
God’s love let us beat and whip him, to mock him, put him on trial, spit upon him, plot against him, and crucify him. What do we do to goodness on earth? How have we in various symbolic ways beat and whip others, to mock people, put God or others on trial, spit upon, plot against, crucify in our hearts? Jesus did say, you done these to the least of these my brethren, you done so to me.
For that, Reader, you think for a moment you can waltz into heaven because God Loves without accepting His grace and changed by his great love? That is why there is a hell – it separates the wheat from the tares. From those that tear each other apart, manipulate God’s goodness, grace, and love for their own gainful entertainment, from those justly and fairly reconciled thru Christ Jesus’ work on the cross/resurrection. God will not allow sin to run amuck in heaven without end, he will contain it justly and fairly. So, reader where do you stand – wheat or as a tare?
If you wish to be restored, forgiven for how you treated God’s gift of life and grace – demonstrated by how you really are in the treatment of others. How you robbed, slain, brought ruin to the hearts of others. How such self justifying attitudes steal from your life – then you need to realize that the Lord loved you so much to offer to you an offer, an exchange. This old life of ruin for His life of reconciliation, peace, love, joy, endurance, new moxie of real eternal life from God – his Spirit blown inside you – a new birth!
Jesus said you must become born again by His Spirit to enter into heaven. If you are being honest with yourself, now, you know, you do not deserve heaven for you own life testifies against you in your treatment of love and goodness for own self gain in this life. Whom have you mentally crucified, put on trial, mocked, spat upon?
God does not desire that to continue in heaven. He desires you to be saved – reconciled willingly through your choice not his force as He is that Just. If that is you, Reader, all I can do is to get you started on your way by praying a simple heartfelt prayer and from it, you add to it. Then I pray that the Lord will lead you to a good bible based group near you and constantly renewed in your spirit – new life. So please begin by praying:
God, dear Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, have mercy upon me a sinner, forgive, make me Born again by your Holy Spirit. Place me into the Father’s kingdom, Place me into your care, place me in empowerment to Love by your Holy Spirit! Hold me now, forgive me…
…my ugly ways I have inside…and outside…I have done…
…have mercy upon me a sinner…I have acted…
…lead me a guide me forever toward you, never let me go…
…If I stray, give me a good swift kick to return me to your way… Amen…