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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. Luke 14:26
Are you surprised that sweet, peaceful, loving Jesus would ask you to “hate” ma, pa, gramps, and grandma? How can this be Jesus’ first demand to becoming a real disciple? As a young believer I looked at this verse and knew there had to be a catch somewhere… I hoped! I felt guilty kicking my mother to the curb and throwing my father under the bus! I resolved to understand it later when I could better grasp it.
Since Jesus listed it first when relating to the demands of being a disciple of His, we can’t put it off any longer. Actually, Jesus didn’t use the word “hate” in these verses… translators did. The word Jesus used is “sane”. It means “to prefer above.” The Lord is inferring or demanding our total allegiance. In other words, to be a disciple, we must love Jesus more than we love anyone else–even our closest family members. Our love for Jesus should be so powerful that in comparison, it seems as if we hate everyone else. It is not a matter of hating anyone. It is about loving God more.
Let me ask a hard question. Has your love for the Lord ever alienated you against certain members of your family? If it hasn’t yet, it eventually will… or it should. Why? Because when we truly prefer the Lord over others, they eventually get offended. We do not do it on purpose, they just move into second place. When our allegiances change, so do our priorities even in family circles.
Gary Ezzo says that one of the problems with families today is that the husband and wife join hands to form a family circle and then a child comes along and they place the child in the center with the husband and wife still forming the circle. Now everything revolves around the child. Then a second child comes and that child is also placed in the circle. And now everything revolves around two children. And as the family becomes larger the center becomes so big that the hands of the father and mother are pulled apart and the circle is broken.
What we must do is form the circle but with Christ in the center. Then as each child is born, they join hands with mom and dad to make the circle bigger. The result is that the circle is never broken as long as Christ is the center.
As a disciple, if we cannot get these basic primary structures in proper order, there will be no way to withstand the pressures of the world coupled with Satan’s attacks against us. Once we are able to “prefer the Lord” over and above our family, then we are able to move forward into the next stages of real discipleship. It is that simple. If the Lord hasn’t addressed your primary relationship issues, He will. Allow Him to set the boundaries.
Heather Mercer and Dana Curry were arrested by the Taliban and held prisoner for 128 days in Afghanistan. They both attended Baylor, and surrendered their lives to be fully devoted followers of Jesus. Afterward, Dateline interviewed Heather Mercer’s mother. It was the kind of story the media likes because they discovered Heather’s mother was totally opposed to Heather’s decision to work in Afghanistan. The media really tried to play up the story to show Heather’s commitment to Christ had divided her family. They wanted to keep asking her how she could do something her mother opposed. This is what Jesus meant in verse 26. Heather and Dana had to prefer the Lord over their family and even their own life!
In her book, Prisoners of Hope, Heather wrote:
“We answered hard questions posed by our families and friends. Extraordinary are the parents who don’t balk at the idea of their child moving to a third-world, war-ravaged, drought-stricken country–and, in this case, a country serving as a hub for international terrorist activity. That we had decided to go as Christian aid workers to a country where a harsh, unpredictable regime severely curtailed religious freedom gave most of our loved ones pause at best, and otherwise prompted serious alarm. We were asked: ‘ Aren’t you being foolish? Why would you jeopardize your own safety?’”
When God calls and leads you, you will have to make some difficult decisions. Those closest to you (your friends and family) will not jump up and down and rejoice over those choices. But…this the first demand of a true disciple.
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,