Jesus says "NO" to life
Jesus says to his disciples in Luke 14:26
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.”
What are we to make of Jesus’ call to discipleship when he says “hate your own life?” Such a statement seems contrary to common sense for one must love one’s life in some capacity otherwise reality will take its course through death. Perhaps he is allegorizing a bit? Or is he?
The word “hate” in Greek is “misew" pronounced “mis-eh'-o.” According to Strong’s this word means to hate or pursue with hatred, detest. This does not help much so turning to Webster’s a clearer picture can be gained. One who hates has a deep seated hostility or animosity toward someone or something. Particularly interesting are the actions associated with the emotion. It is almost as if the intense emotional feeling begs and/or compels the beholder to take some course of action.
Before going on I think it behooves one to ask what emotions are. Are emotions something that arises from nowhere? Do emotions have a source? If so where do they come from?
Emotions are the result of value judgments and/or knowledge about a particular thing being observed. [I distinguish this from “emotional state” which has its basis in the biological construction of the mind. Some states favor depression while others optimism. One should not confuse the two. The definition provided by Webster is referring to emotions and not an emotional state.] For instance, different people may have different emotional reactions to a piece of candy. To one the candy bar meets a need – hunger – and the result is happiness. Another, who is on a diet, sees a piece of fat laying there and is disgusted. For another – perhaps someone from the jungle – has never seen candy before and is curious. Depending on values held each will respond with a different emotion because of a value judgment. [Values being those things that we seek to gain or keep.] Our values influence our emotions and how we view a particular thing will cause certain emotions to surface.
Jesus gives a few examples of things to hate – father, mother, brother and sister. [I will get to self later.] We could look at this in a number of ways but I think I will cut to the quick and say that Jesus wants his follower to be one who does not allow relationships to have any meaning apart from him. By understanding the word “hate” it becomes clear that one is to be moved in such a way that action is required. In other words, values – things we aim to gain or keep – such as relationships are things to be hated if they come between the follower and the leader. One should see them with disgust and react with such repugnant emotion that the follower will throw away the value “relationship” if it might cause one to slide from discipleship. Truly Jesus is making a very bold statement indeed.
But this is not the whole story. For relationships are only values to be gained in the sense that one knows the values one seeks to gain in the first place. Let’s say that someone seeks to gain from fishing. One person could fish for himself but perhaps a family could catch more. By catching more perhaps the surplus could be sold for profit. A relationship, then, is not some thing one seeks to gain apart from the “things” one seeks to gain for himself. A relationship is therefore the result of similar values sought between two or more people. When Jesus says that one should seek him above relationships Jesus is also saying that any values one hoped to have gained via those relationships are also considered vanity. Jesus’ words are not just the dropping of relationships but a whole slew of value seeking.
Before addressing self I think it also good to examine the word “life” in this statement. There are many different Greek words used for life such as “zwh” and “Bios” pronounced dzo-ay and bee'-os respectively. The first is usually associated with eternal things. The second with more earthly matters and is generally an all inclusive view of life i.e. plant life included.
The Greek used is “yuch" pronounced psoo-khay and is the “vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing.”  It is the living soul, the “seat of the feelings, desires, affections and aversions.” It is the “essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death.” 
When Jesus is speaking of one’s life he is not only speaking of one’s existence physically – Bios – but of one’s very soul. One could be tempted to insert the idea original sin but I do not think that given the definition “yuch" one can draw that conclusion. Jesus is literally saying one should hate his very being – soul and all.
By hating ourselves to the core hating others can only be a logical extension of an inner conviction. So Jesus is quite right about his statement – if one hates himself he can only, by virtue of that hate, hate the relationships that might have otherwise been pursued.
When I was younger there was a picture that used to hang in our church of an angry man with the phrase “To hate life is to take it.” While I understand the message that the Christian authors were trying to convey the above puts that in a new light. It is only through hating one’s life that one can truly become a disciple of Jesus - the only result gained can be death.
 Definitions from the Greek Bible online http://www.greekbible.com/