In the space where fear once lived, love enters to replace it. The kingdom of God contains only love. Anything that falls short of this ideal hasnít been fully transformed. In Jesusís eyes, the everyday world feebly reflects divine love. This holds the key to one of his most disturbing teachings:
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.
Jesus seems to be ordering his disciples to abandon every cherished relationship, yet this makes no sense from a teacher who also commands them to love their enemies.
Jesus speaks in absolutes to catch his listenerís attention, and here he is making the sharpest possible distinction between ordinary love and divine love. ďMeĒ stands for God, and ďcoming to MeĒ means entering the Kingdom of God, which is to say, Godís reality. That reality isnít physical; it isnít found in worldly relationships, even the most loving ones. If you want to know divine love, you must find it on its own terms, not the terms you are used to.
Even when phrased more softly, this is a radical teaching. A person doesnít start with everyday love and then direct that feeling toward God. A complete reversal of perception is necessary Ė to dramatize this reversal, Jesus turns the word love into hate.
The mystical Jesus regards the entire world as an illusion, which would make the love we experience here also an illusion. Now the word hate becomes understandable: Jesus is warning us off the kind of unreal love that lulls us, blinding us to Godís love.
Adapted from The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2008).