Summary: A look at the difficult passages where Jesus calls us to "hate" our families. Why would He ask something like that?
IT SOUNDS GOOD AND RIGHT: “Family first.”
- “Family first” comes naturally for us because it’s so easy to love your family more than anything.
- Sure, they aggravate us sometimes, but they are our deepest earthly relationships. When a family is as it should be, they mean so much to us.
- When someone says that they’re cutting down on hours because they want to put their family first, we applaud that (as we should).
- When someone says that they can’t help us with a project because they’re committed to going to their child’s ball game, we applaud that (as we should).
- But while family is important, that’s not the same thing as saying that we should put family first.
JESUS' IDEA: Love for God should overshadow love for family (and love for self).
- Let’s look at Luke 14:26.
- We’re in a series of sermons about hard words that Jesus spoke and these certainly qualify.
- He says we are to “hate” our father, mother, brothers, and sisters. What in the world does that mean? Does that mean we’re to treat them badly or to shun them or to hope bad things happen to them? Of course not.
- You have to understand each passage in the context of all the other things that Jesus said. Jesus said that the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. In John 15:12, Jesus commands us to love each other as He has loved us.
- The meaning of v. 26 is clearly that we are to “hate” in comparison to our love for God. That our love for God would be so much greater than everything else that our love for family pales in comparison.
- This is what comes out in Matthew 10:37. Jesus says that we are not to love our family more than Him. Our love for God should be the greatest love of our lives.
- It sounds right to say something like, “My kids come first.” But when you extend that sentence out to what it actually means in light of what we’re talking about this morning – “My kids come before God” – it doesn’t sound so good.
- I love my wife and kids. But they are not the best thing that ever happened to me. Meeting Jesus was the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
- We try to make the Bible fit into the categories and plans that we’ve already made up. One way we’ve done that over the past thirty years is declaring within the culture war that family comes first.
- It is true that family is important. It is true that family means a great deal to us. It is true that God desires that we treat our families well. It is true that we have an enormous opportunity for impact through our family relationships, especially parents impacting their children.
- But we need to recognize the limitations of that. The Bible is not “family-friendly” in the way that we normally use that term. The Bible is full of sex and violence. The Bible does not tell us to put our families first. Of course, God is the one who created the idea of family and family is enormously important, but not exactly in the ways that we sometimes push. We have at times within the culture war discourse made it sound like family was the most important thing in the world.
- Look at Matthew 10:35-36. Those verses don’t sound very “family-friendly” to me.
- Just as an aside, Jesus also mentions love for self in Luke 14:26.
- This is also something that too many people put first in their lives. We talked about this earlier in this sermon series, but it’s worth a momentary repeating here that living for yourself is something that Jesus said is foolish. We are to put God first, not self.
- Even the idea of “finding yourself” is a path in the wrong direction. Jesus calls us to “deny yourself” instead.
ISN'T JESUS BEING EGOTISTICAL IN SAYING THAT? No, because Jesus wants us to live for what is supremely valuable.
- It seems a little egotistical for Jesus to say that we should put God first. When we have someone say, “I think I should be first” we all wonder if they think too highly of themselves. Isn’t that similar to what Jesus is saying here?
- It’s not, and here’s why.
- God wants us to live the most meaningful lives possible. In order for that to happen, one thing that we need is to be living for what is supremely valuable.
- Let me give an example. Let’s say that you want to pick a TV programming provider. You ask me my opinion. Cable company A offers 50 channels for $150 dollars. Satellite company B offers 60 channels for $140 dollars. But Programming company C offers 200 channels for $50. All the technical stuff is essentially the same (HD, getting the good channels, etc). Now let’s say I work for company C. You’re my friend and I want what’s best for you so I tell you to get company C because it is genuinely the best choice.