I love verses about loving your kids and investing in them. You could probably rattle off a couple right off the top of your head (or make something up…or sprinkle in some Oprah quotes or something you read on a fortune cookie one time).
The bottom line is (and maybe this is one of the reasons that it’s easy to get an audience about parenting) that it’s easy to get people in our culture to talk about loving their kids. This is something that is both Obama and Romney approved. Love your kids. Yay.
That’s why this verse with Jesus “messes with” me a little bit in Luke 14:25-27:
25 Now great crowds accompanied [Jesus], and He turned and said to them, 26 “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. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
This sounds so radical to me. In a culture that does everything it can to promote child safety, focus “on” the family, and universally love family (whether it’s traditional or “modern”), this is like fingernails scratching a blackboard or a record skipping during the middle of a dance party. It’s abrupt. It definitely gets your attention. But what does Jesus mean?
Does Jesus mean that we’re supposed to forego our familial commitments in order to “prove” how much we love Jesus? Does Jesus mean that we’re supposed to give our kids a snake when they ask for a loaf of bread? Does this mean that we should just insult our spouses every chance we get?
No, no, and no.
This is a hyperbolic statement. That’s a literary device. It’s meant to not be taken literally and is used for emphasis or effect. So…what’s the emphasis? Well, the conclusion is about following Jesus with your life. So, Jesus is emphatically saying that Jesus must be primary. Our pastor said last week that this is a DTR with Jesus in which He is seeking to “define the relationship.” I remember those from my younger days. A girl corners you and asks something to the effect of, “What are we doing here?” or “Where do you see this going?” As a guy, we try to stiff-arm that conversation and get onto where we’re going to eat.
Jesus is asking us, “What are we doing here” or “Where do you see this relationship going?” We can put off that question; but, more than anything, it’s the most important question you can answer about your own life. Being a great husband or wife can’t save you. Giving your children everything you didn’t have can’t save you. Only Jesus can save you.
So…yes, compared to my relationship with Jesus, I guess I ought to hate my beautiful wife.
And, yes, compared to my relationship with Jesus, I guess I ought to hate my bubbly little baby.
And as weird as that sounds (I almost didn’t write it for fear of being misunderstood), I know that it needs to be true. I can’t put anything ahead of my relationship with my Savior. He brings me life. He brings me joy. He enables me (through the regeneration of my heart by the Holy Spirit) to really love my wife and my daughter.
First things first. Make it personal.