Summary: Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus: Two Acceptable Temptations Jesus Rejects
Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus:
Two Acceptable Temptations Jesus Rejects
In this passage Jesus warns us about two temptations that are often accepted and endorsed by the church today. They are valuing the family more than God and valuing happiness more than God.
1. First Temptation: Our Tendency to Idolize Family (vs. 25-26a)
Jesus turns to the crowd and says, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus tells the crowd that that they must hate all these people – their parents, their spouse, their children, their brothers and sisters, and even hate themselves if they are to follow him. But all over the New Testament place we are commanded to love others - Jesus commands us to love our neighbors and love our enemies. Paul tells us to love one another and husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. How is that possible? He is warning us about a temptation we all face, not temptation as we normally think about it– lust, greed, anger or other negative sins but more a positive temptation. The temptation to take the good and beautiful gifts of God and make them ultimate. That is a more deceptive and deadly concern for us as Christ followers in America. He is telling us not to take the blessings of God, like family, and make them ultimate and therefore destroy them. So I want to look at the way God designed the family in the purposes of God so we can see what is going on here. If we understand and live Gods design for the family there will be great fruit in our families but if we do not understand nor live by Gods design, we destroy the family and will experience the pain and disappointment left in the wake of our decisions. Look at Ephesians 5:22-25:
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
If we go back to Genesis we see that God created man and then created the woman afterwards because man was inadequate by himself. So God takes a rib from Adam and creates this thing of beauty to come alongside Adam as his helpmate and together they are to cultivate creation. As the wife comes alongside the man as his helpmate, God is glorified. That is your goal in life, to live according to Gods design in such a way to glory God. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church and died for her. A husband’s goal is not to get all he can out of his wife but just the opposite, he is to cultivate his wife – patiently, tenderly, and spiritually serve and nurture her. That is the way God is glorified in marriage. But if she exists to make you happy or he exists to make you happy then your spouse has just moved from being your mate to being your god and you destroy the purpose and beauty of marriage and that will lead to pain and disappointment because there will be conflict, frustration, anger, etc. Now lets see how children fit in here. Look at Ephesians 6:1-3:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."
God created man and woman to work together cultivating and repairing a broken and fallen world by the Holy Sprit flowing though us. We create children and our primary responsibility with them is to teach them Gods purposes and Gods ways as the priority in their lives. To love Jesus with everything they got and to push back the darkness, the brokenness, the evil in the world as God reconciles all things to himself. That is the purpose of family and parenting. That is your primary task, not the churches. We are here to assist you, not take your place. If you are not doing it then pain and disappointment awaits you. If the husband is not finding his fulfillment, joy, and worship in God, if he is not pursuing that as a his first priority, his first love but expects his wife to be that for him there is guaranteed to be pain and conflict because she cannot possibly be that for him. If she is your god because you expect her to meet your need for fulfillment, joy, and worship you will end up miserable and she will end up miserable because she was not designed to be that for you. Take it a step further, if you are miserable in your marriage and you look to your kids for fulfillment, joy, and worship then you make them god, elevating them to a place they do not belong, you will cause pain and problems in your life and theirs. You will have forsaken the command of God to bring them up in the discipline of the Lord. If your life is prioritized around your kids and their lives and their happiness, you idolize them and you are looking for them to meet a need only God can fulfill. I am not saying kids are not important but when you spend your best resources on their education, their sports, and their fun but give very little time and attention to prioritizing God in your life or theirs then they will get the message loud and clear –you are religious but God is not important to you and he will not be important to them. They may grow up being religious but not a Christ follower.