Luke 14: 25-27
“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said, “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. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Think of this post as the rest of the story so to speak. How do I reconcile the reality of my faith with Christ’s own definition of “Christ-follower.” As a son, a husband, a father, and a family pastor, how do I deal with this requirement to leave my family behind in order to follow my Lord?
This is the proverbial line in the sand. It is the difference between authentic faith and religion. It is an issue of priority and a life of commitment. It’s the difference between the large crowds and the devoted followers.
I used to get “following Christ” confused with going to church. Going to church is part of following Christ but it does not constitute the totality of life in Christ. Christ followers are bondservants according to the Scripture. The Greek word often used in the New Testament is “doulos” which means bond servant. The kind of servant who has been bought with a price and treated like a member of the family and in return gratefully serves the master.
Following Christ requires us to love Jesus first in fact more so than we love our own families. This seems impossible but it is the requirement. How do I love Jesus first ahead of my wife and my girls and my parents. Simple. One step at a time bearing my cross, one day at a time following the Master, constantly placing Christ (not church or family or work or anything else) first.
Here is the paradox and the better way: Our families actually need us to love Christ and put him first. I am a better husband, father, and son when I love Jesus more than I love my own life and my own family. When I love Jesus most he teaches me to love like him. That means I become more servant-hearted, more sacrificial and more loving, putting my own needs and desires behind those of the people I love namely my family and friends.
When I have faith enough to love Jesus most it actually makes me love others more than I could if I placed them before my love of Christ.
Love your family enough to hate them in comparison to your love for Christ. Ironically they will be blessed by your attention to Jesus and how he changes you.