The Greek word here for “hate” doesn’t mean we must despise our family in order to follow Jesus. What it just means is that we love them less than we love God. It’s called being set apart. So to this, we are to separate ourselves “morally” from the world view and others that don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. In Isaiah 52:11, God tells us to, “Come out from them (the world) and be separate.” To be set apart for Christ means that we have our priorities correct…God is first, our family is second, the world is third. For when you make God the most significant person in you life, you are less likely to allow compromise to creep in. And when God is your everything, you are much better equipped to love those around you more effectively.
What the Lord requires of me is completely different from what He is calling you to accomplish for Him. But we have all been set apart or selected by God…entrusted with the divine call to share the Gospel Message with others. Yes, your calling is to your co-workers, friends , and family…those in your circle of influence. But it’s also to those people He brings across your path daily…the sad looking waitress, the harried, young Mom waiting in line with you, or the neighbor who’s just received devastating health news. You have been set apart for all them…called to bring the Good News of Jesus to those who desperately need it.
In the case of Barnabas and Saul, God’s calling was to preach the gospel…in your case it may be something entirely different…but the correlation is the same in that the calling comes first, then the setting apart. And depending on a myriad of things, the timing between one and the other can be short or long. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will place a calling on our heart and immediately will spring us into action…while other times, there is a long period of equipping and preparation on our part before He says, “Yes, the time is now.” It’s during that long wait that we tend to question our calling…but regardless of how long it has been, know that the Lord has not forgotten…He’s still at work, perfecting you, until the time when He will separate you for the work He’s called you to.