Many years ago I was invited to teach an adult Sunday school class. I read the text that we were supposed to discuss, the words of Jesus from Luke 14:26: “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 an example of hyperbole,” I said. “Jesus is exaggerating for the sake of emphasis. He doesn’t really expect you to hate those who are near and dear to you.”
Willard bristled at my statement. “My Bible says that you have to hate them,” he said.
“It’s a figure of speech,” I countered. “Can you follow Jesus and hate your wife?”
“It’s not a figure of speech,” Willard insisted. “It says hate and it means hate.”
The rest of the class grew increasingly uneasy as Willard and I traded verbal blows.
At last I said, “I guess we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.” And I moved on.