Summary: We should not abuse the family with our faith.
What do you do when the affair is with the church?
The pictures in Susan's "picture box" range from snapshots of church functions to pictures of our children when they were tiny, but they do have one thing in common--Susan isn't in the picture. Why? She's the official family photographer.
Recently, while thumbing through the pictures, I remembered a story Pastor Dan Rhodes told me. Dan is the pastor of two rural churches in Colorado and stays busy. Like most pastors, he has plenty to do, but by being the pastor of two churches, he has twice the committee meetings, and twice the worship services.
As Dan tells the story, his daughter's third grade teacher requested a parent teacher conference with him. His wife usually took care of those conferences, but the teacher wanted to see him, not his wife.
At her insistence, he made an appointment to drop by the school in the afternoon. "I wanted you to see this drawing your daughter made of your family." She said.
Dan looked at the drawing and asked, "Where am I?" "That's why I called you down here today," the teacher responded, "I asked your daughter the same question and she said you're never home so she left you out of the picture."(From FreshIllustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
Dan had been busy doing the Lord's work. It was noble work. Certainly we can excuse his absenteeism, can't we? After all, our text today says, Luke 14:26 KJV 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.
Does following God mean our family gets the shaft?
Bill Hybels is the Pastor of the largest church in America, Willow Creek Community Church, just outside of Chicago, Illinois. His ministry began as an outreach from another church to teenagers during the early 70's. They called the youth ministry Son City. He and his wife Lynne recount the story of their explosive church growth in their book Rediscovering church. Listen as I read an excerpt from the book, this is Lynne speaking:
"In my mind I am walking again along the quiet, tree-lined streets from the church to the tiny home where we had just begun our married life in May 1974. I am sitting at the round kitchen table with the red tablecloth. Another lonely meal. Another empty evening. An hour earlier I had begged Bill to stay home. He had looked at me in disbelief. "Kids are dying and going to hell, and you want me to stay home and hold your hand?" The words echo in my mind, and I hear them over and over in different forms: Don't bother me, Lynne. How can you demand that, Lynne? Six months into marriage, I am convinced I have made a horrible mistake. I love the man I married. I love Son City. But I hate our marriage. I hate the pain of disappointment. I hate mourning the death of so many dreams. And I hate the loneliness." (Hybels, p. 44) (From FreshIllustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
Was Pastor Hybels right? What's more important, holding your wife's hand, or preaching the gospel? Is this what Jesus meant in Luke 14:26? Does our text justify neglecting one's family?