Summary: Family is foundational but following Christ must come first.
Putting Faith Over Family
Rev. Brian Bill
The Bridger Wilderness Area in Wyoming is one of the most pristine areas for hiking in the United States (besides Wisconsin). A number of years ago hikers were asked to fill out comment cards. Here are some actual comments…
* Please avoid building trails that go uphill.
* Too many bugs and leaches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests.
* The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.
* A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed?
* Reflectors need to be placed on trees every 50 feet so people can hike at night with flashlights.
* Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.
* A McDonalds would be nice at the trailhead.
* There are TOO Many Rocks...
These comments and complaints reveal that most of us are looking for that which is comfortable and convenient. Some of us push back when Jesus calls us to radical commitment. But Jesus is more interested in having committed followers than He is in drawing a crowd of fans. As we continue in our series called, “Hope for Your Home,” some of us need a corrective. Here’s what I wrote down as I studied several passages in the Gospels: Family is foundational but following Christ must come first.
We’ve learned a lot of very helpful truths in our series so far. If you’ve missed any of the sermons, you can read them or listen to them online at www.pontiacbible.org. Here’s a summary of each one.
* If God doesn’t bless our families, they will be a mess
* Don’t play the blame game; own it by name and avoid the shame
* Keep the siblings and lose the rivalry by doing what God wants, not what Satan wants
* Moms who matter give their children to the Lord
* Grandparents in the gap must leave a legacy
* Every discipline situation is a setting for discipleship
* Godly parents don’t always produce godly children
Loving Our Families Less
We’re going to look at three main passages this morning that are quite shocking. Please turn in your Bibles to Luke 14:25-27. These words spoken by Jesus are difficult and demanding, abrupt and offensive and run counter to our Christian subculture. Let’s resist the urge to dilute these demands and allow the full force of them to jar us out of our comfortable Christianity.
But first let’s define the word “disciple” because it’s repeated several times. Look at the end of verse 26: “…he cannot be my disciple.” And at the last phrase in verse 27: “…cannot be my disciple.” This is repeated in verse 33: “…cannot be my disciple.” What is it that prevents one from being a disciple? We’ll get to that.
A disciple is a learner or follower and was used to describe someone who was totally committed to a cause or a person. It comes from another word that means “to learn by practice or experience.” There’s no such thing as an instant disciple; like the word, it takes discipline. We could define it this way: “A disciple is one who is undergoing the process of being taught, both by instruction and hands-on training to follow after and behave more like our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.” Pastor Dick would add that it must involve Attitudes, Beliefs and Character. Jesus himself defined a disciple this way in Luke 6:40: “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” The term “disciples” occurs 267 times in the New Testament, while “Christian” is found just three times. The Book of Acts uses the terms synonymously. Acts 11:26 says: “The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.”
Let’s set the scene in Luke 14:25: “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said…” Jesus often drew crowds but he was never interested in being popular. Some of them just wanted to see a miracle or get another free meal. This particular phrase refers to “many multitudes.” In the midst of all the fanfare, Jesus turns to them, which was actually a very dramatic act. It has the idea of “twisting forcefully” with a deliberate effort. What is that Jesus wants to tell them? Does He want to give them positive parenting principles so they can have their best life now? What would you say if Jesus spun around this morning, pointed at you and asked, “Why are you following Me?”
Look at verse 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.” Let me remind you that these words come from Jesus Himself and they are quite strong. Notice that they are intended for all of us – “if anyone comes to me” and if one doesn’t hate his family – “…he cannot be my disciple.” Let’s allow the demands of discipleship in this passage to rock us. Imagine how offensive this statement would have been to those listening in a culture where honor of parents was the highest obligation and family was one’s greatest joy. By the way, you can’t say you’re a perfect candidate to be a disciple just because you may hate your sisters or your brothers!