Dear Christians, in the most gracious, all-encompassing, life-changing way, Christ on Calvary said of the world’s sin; “Charge that to my account”. “I hereby take care of all of it”. If you do not believe that Jesus’ sacrificial death settled accounts for us sinners, if you do not believe that He said “paid in full” to you at your baptism, baptizing you into the death of Christ, then you will not be able to rightly hear the words of Jesus in our Gospel today.
TEXT: Luke 14:25-35
THE LOVE AND HATE THAT JESUS GIVES!
Preached by Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Dear partners in the Gospel; wouldn’t it be great if someone said of all your college costs, “Charge that to my account”? Full tuition and fees and books to the University of your choice - the most advanced computer system with every accessory, a top-quality apartment (full room and board) – “Charge that to my account” “I’ll take care of that for you”. Wouldn’t’ it be great if someone said of your home mortgage or your car loan, your medical premiums and out of pocket costs, “Charge that to my account”? St. Paul said something along those lines to Philemon regarding his runaway slave Onesimus – If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.

Dear Christians, in the most gracious, all-encompassing, life-changing way, Christ on Calvary said of the world’s sin; “Charge that to my account”. “I hereby take care of all of it”. If you do not believe that Jesus’ sacrificial death settled accounts for us sinners, if you do not believe that He said “paid in full” to you at your baptism, baptizing you into the death of Christ, then you will not be able to rightly hear the words of Jesus in our Gospel today.

Amid the superstition that infected the Church during the Middle Ages (indulgences, relics, and the like), Dr. Martin Luther regarded it as a distinct blessing that at least the crucifix remained in the Church. Christ crucified - the wisdom of God (I Cor. 1:23, 24). Christ crucified - the love of God (I John 3:16). This, Luther said, is how God wants to be known.

The Lamb of God sacrificed for the sins of the world loves you with a perfect love. Yet here He calls you to hate those whom He in other places makes clear you are under obligation to love – your spouse, your children, your parents (those in the pew beside you, those you tuck in at night, write letters to, speak with on the phone). “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.” He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

How do your ears hear these words from the lover of your soul? What do you make of Jesus’ command to hate? Elsewhere He taught that we are to do good to those who hate us (Lk. 6:27). Elsewhere His apostles taught that whoever hates his brother is a murderer (I John 3:15). Yet here He clearly states, If anyone comes to me and does not hate...his family…and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

In this age of tolerance, we must be clear that hate is sometimes a beautiful gift of God. God, who is love, can and does hate! He hates evil, He hates idolatry, He hates false worship (Deut. 12:31; Is 1:14). The hatred assigned to God in Scripture is not so much an emotion as a rejection in will and deed. God’s people are also supposed to lovingly hate as He does. The righteous are to hate what is false (Prov. 13:5). To fear the Lord is to hate evil (Prov. 8:13). Christians are to hate evil and love good (Amos 5:15; Rom 12:9).

But what is evil about family? Jesus’ command here is so very clear and concrete. Think of your own dear wife or husband, your beloved children, your caring parents, your siblings. How do I hate my father Norbert and my mother Lillian and my wife Barbara and my children, Hannah, Luke, Ben, and Mark and my brother, Ron and my sister, Londa, and even my own life. Why am I to hate them? Is it possible to hate them as Christ commands here and love them as Christ commands elsewhere?

Contemplate how closely related love and hate really are. Think how easily the most passionate human love can turn hateful when disappointed or spurned. Think how hearts may wax hot or cold in loving or hating those who excite and then weary them, who please and then displease them. Human hearts generally think of both love and hate as emotions, feelings we move into and out of.

God’s Word, however, reveals that both love and hate are more properly actions and attitudes, not emotions. When God says, husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church, He is speaking of faithful, caring actions done day in and day out, regardless of what one’s feelings may be. Agape love is a self-giving and faithful doing, regardless of fluctuating emotions.

This is also the case when Scripture speaks of hate. Is has to do with actions and attitudes, not primarily emotions. This is crucial in understanding what the Son of God meant when He said, “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.”

This is not hate in a psychological sense. This is hate that mirrors God’s holy and perfect hate. This is hate in the sense of turning from anything that challenges exclusive commitment to God. This hate is doing the opposite of what Moses warned about: “If your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish (Deut. 30:17, 18). Those things that tempt us as idolize them, to worship and serve them surely include ourselves and our families. I think of one father, a football coach and former Lutheran. He had a championship ring on his finger from his own high school football days and he had dreams of coaching his son. When God called his boy from this life with leukemia at the age of 13, he turned away from Christ and His gifts in disbelief and hate. While his son enjoys eternal pleasure at God’s right hand, this father wallows in the misery of his idols.

Jesus is by no means trying to discourage us from following Him. He is lovingly showing us that following Him is more than joining a club. His church is more than a group of like-minded people who want to make a difference in the world. His church is not a family picnic. He who normally says, “come unto Me and I will give you rest” here says, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate…he cannot be My disciple.”

Dear hearers of the Word made flesh; that which Jesus puts at the center of this hate target is not the moral crud on the television or crime in the city or corrupt politicians. The bulls eye on this hate target contains those you love and even your own life. His call to hate is a call to turn from and renounce even excellent gifts in so far as they deflect or discourage total commitment to Him. The nature of His call is sobering – no back slapping, game playing here. “Whoever does not take up his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” The nature of His call is so staggering it can lead to only a few responses.

The most common response is to hush Jesus up, to pretend He really didn’t speak the words in our text. It is the modern routine of manufacturing a politically correct, socially sensitive Jesus made in our own image – a Jesus who always makes us feel just right. A second response is to hate the one who spoke this command to hate. Surely we humans know enough to correct Jesus and attack His words here. He must be a bit of a loser to lose it like this. A third response is to hate yourself, that is, to despair of and renounce your own sufficiency and strength to do what Christ demands. “…anyone of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple”.

Fellow Redeemed, it is this last response that Jesus intends. That’s why His words about hate are followed immediately with His warning about counting the cost before starting to build a tower. That’s why He spoke of asking conditions of peace before going to war against an enemy with twice the strength.

What more could Jesus say to clearly and completely illustrate our insufficiency? God commands commitment to Christ with no human reservations. The exclusive and unconditional claim of Jesus will not stop even at the most important and intimate of earthly ties. The disciple of Christ is to disown, renounce and reject loving anyone, even self, more than Christ. Our closest relatives, our loved ones, even our most sincere personal spiritual efforts cannot furnish us with the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. We cannot build the tower! Not alone and not as an earthly family! We cannot defeat the mighty enemy! We cannot fear and love and trust in God above all things! With these words Jesus intends to kill all trust in ourselves and in those we love and give us Himself.

Beloved, we can’t do Christianity! Our only hope is to ask for terms of peace. And Christ is our peace! And you are in Christ – baptized into Him – seeking refuge in Him. Remember Paul writing to Philemon of Onesimus, “…receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account”.

We imperfect lovers and imperfect haters have an astronomical bill to pay. Like the national debt assigned personally to you, your debt load before God is not feasible, it cannot be made right. But of you Jesus says to the Father, “…receive him (receive her) as you would receive me. If he (if she) has wronged you at all or owes you anything, charge that to my account.”

Beloved rejoice! You cannot do Christianity. But you are a little Christ! He who bids you carry your cross is this very day carrying you! Continue to seek peace from Him, for the peace He demands He comes to give you today. His peace! Blood-bought peace! Risen from the grave peace! In your midst to serve you peace! Satan silencing peace! Life-restoring peace! Joy-giving peace! Love your neighbor peace!

When Satan says, “Look at all you start and can’t finish”, “look how weak you are in battle” tell him to go to hell! Tell him what Jesus shouted from the cross, “It is finished”! In fact in your eating of His body and drinking of His blood you all together make that very proclamation today. Jesus didn’t begin to win your salvation and then stop. He counted the cost and with His very flesh and blood He paid it all, He won the war and built the tower.

Christ crucified – the wisdom of God!
Christ crucified – the love of God!
This is how God wants to be known!

Risen from the grave He loves you. Ascended on high He loves those whom you hold in your heart more than you ever can. You love them most by loving Him first!

In the name of Jesus, Amen.

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