Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hate your father; Love your Father

    I have posted before on Lk. 14 (here), but today I want to approach the same passage from a different angle. The verses I will be focusing are v. 26-27, 33, which read, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me cannot be my disciple. (v.33) So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

    Obviously, as anyone who knows me would I hope suspect, I in this post nor Jesus in the gospel am encouraging you to hate your family. This would be contradictory to the many verses scattered throughout the gospels to love all, and how much more your own family! So in no way is Jesus speaking of a literal hatred of your family.

    What He instead is speaking of is the seemingly insane attachment of a Christian to his Savior. This love and obedience should be so strong as to make our next strongest attachments (love for family) appear as hatred. That's powerful love!

    But what this entails then is a very difficult principle. Today I ran across an article from a young lady asking for advice on a particular discussion forum I follow. She felt God calling her to the mission field, yet her parents were convinced that she should not go, because of safety particularly. As someone who also feels that "nudge" toward foreign missions, I sympathized with her question. Instantly this verse stuck in my head.

    This verse isn't just a pretty (or difficult, however you look at it) little bit of poetry about loving Jesus. It's about following Him. It's about doing what Jesus would have you do, even at the expense of your relationship with your own family. It is, as David Platt would say, a summons to lose your life.

    This verse is not the mushy-gushy, leave feeling good about yourself, more comfortable type of verse. This verse is one that demands absolute obedience and submission to our Lord, even to a point that many, myself include, would consider nearly impossible.

    I have been blessed with a family that is fully supportive of what I feel to be a "nudge" to go on the mission field. Even my mother, who even those outside the family have thought would never let me leave, has told me that if Jesus calls me, she wants me to go. And I am so thankful to God for the family I have.

    But imagining myself, or you, or anyone else in a similar scenario without a supportive family. Perhaps in Jesus day, when following a religious misfit like Jesus around the country would get you forever labeled as a weirdo and non-orthodox. You wouldn't expect a warm welcome back to your synogogue if you followed Jesus. You couldn't expect a warm welcome back from your Orthodox Jewish family if you follow this "false Messiah".

    If you decided to follow Jesus, it was a decision with no turning back (Lk. 9:62). You would have had to turn your back on everything: your town, your home, your family, your synogogue, your friends, your job, your security, your everything. Everything you were would be forever tied up in this homeless, penniless Galilean rabbi.

    Yet Jesus didn't try to make it sound easier than it was. He, very plainly, laid out the facts. Anyone, who comes to Jesus, yet is not willing if need be to abandon their closest ties in favor of Himself, cannot be His disciple. Anyone who is not willing to lay everything he has, all that he is, on the altar and present it as a sacrifice would do better to stay home. He cannot be a disciple of Jesus.

    Think how many potential followers never followed Jesus because of this speech. It was too difficult. It wasn't worth the cost. It simply wasn't worth the price.

    But then there were those few, those desperate, hungry few, who wanted something more. Something more than average, commonplace life. Something more than the mundane. Those hungry, desperate few who wanted Jesus, who wanted the Person, and who were willing to place all on the line to follow Him. Those few were the ones Jesus used to transform the world.

    It wasn't an easy decision. To follow Jesus, those few had to leave the same things the many would have. Yet they made the decision that it was worth it. To follow Christ, they had to put it all on the line, and they did. And they lost everything.

    Except that very thing which they wanted. They kept the Person whom they were seeking. They kept their Messiah, they kept the knowledge of Him, and when all else was lost, even their lives, they still held on to Christ.

    That was the cost. The loss of all human status, position, and prominence. The loss of their religious position and their families. They left all to follow Christ. Because that was the only option. There was no middle ground. There was no half-way follower of Jesus.

    Following Christ wherever He leads will be hard. It will lead us through hard times and tough decisions. There may be times we'll have to say "no" to our families to say "yes" to God. There may be times we have to say "no" to our schedules, "no" to our security, "no" to our plans, "no" to my ambitions, and simply say "yes", a difficult, terrifying "yes", but a "yes" to God.

    Lk. 9:57-62 is a passage I want read at my funeral (hopefully not for a while). "And it came to pass that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto Him, 'Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.' And Jesus said unto him, 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the son of man hath not where to lay his head.' And he said unto another, 'Follow me.' But he said, 'Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.' Jesus said unto him, 'Let the dead bury their own dead, but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.' And another also said, 'Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell which are home at my house.' And Jesus said unto him, 'No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'"

     This perfectly illustrates my point. Here, two of the men show familial concerns. One, whose father had either just died or was going to die soon, wished to wait till all the details and stress of a family partriarch's passing. Another, simply wished to take the time to say a farewell to his family.

     Jesus message to them couldn't be clearer. He had to be first. He had to be before family, before life concerns, before everything. He had to be first. When we surrender our lives to Christ, we grant Him lordship over our lives. And we must submit to that lordship.

    Our love for Christ should outweigh our love for our family, and our allegiance to Christ and His leading must take precedence over the leading even our family and friends. Despite difficult choices, our ultimate allegiance, and ultimate joy, is not found in our family or friends, but in the person of Jesus Christ.


  1. Awesome, wonderful post!! I was talking to my dad about some of this the other day - when Jesus calls us to follow Him, it requires leaving everything we've ever known, ever held our security in, ever trusted, to place our trust and find our security in Him. Excellent post!!!

    1. Thanks! I love how you said that: "to place our trust and find our security in Him." That sums it up perfectly!

  2. VERY true! So many Conservative Christians act like its a sin if someone goes against their parents wishes(talking about full-blown adults here, not kids or teens keep in mind) just because of a different Christian belief or interpretation of the Bible. People are NOT bound to center their life around their parents theological beliefs. You worded it very well in your article! Thankfully, I too get the "good parents"; but I see SO many who don't and will be practically shunned by their family for doing something as moving out, getting a job, etc.(keep in mind I am talking about adults).

    1. I've experienced the same thing from many other people too, and I wonder what part of a "personal" relationship with Christ we don't understand! Jesus' call must come before everything, and that includes family, as hard as that is!

    2. SO true! Yet Christians like that are hard to come by these days. :( And yet early Christians were willing to give their life......

  3. Wow- what a great post. I heard a sermon on Sunday about suffering, and in a way, this totally ties in. After all, giving everything for the sake of following Christ always incurs suffering at some point. How much am I willing to suffer to find everything in Him?

    1. Very true! It sure doesn't fit into the comfortable aspect of religion, but then again, the more comfortable I am, the less I need Jesus!