"For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW;and A MAN'S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. " He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." Matt 10:35-37
Beloved, this both a complex and challenging passage of scripture. How could our loving savior say such a thing? Are we not to love one another, especially our families? Are we not instructed to honor our mothers and fathers and grieve not our children and children to obey parents?
Jesus is using a device that takes things to the extreme in order to make a point. This was also done when he spoke of plucking out one's offending eye and cutting off one's right hand rather than enter hell whole and with full sight, Matt 18:8-9. The message here is twofold.
First, being a child of God is an all or nothing proposition. Either you pursue a life of righteousness or you do not. Either you resist and even fight evil or you do not. You are on one side of the line between darkness and light or the other. One need only think back to the American Civil War to know that brother fought against brother over divided loyalties and mutually exclusive ideals. Think then, of your own family. How many of your relatives are non Christians? Is there ever hostility surrounding your spiritually based differences with them?
The drawing of battle lines between us is not here suggested, for we battle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness in high places. As Christians, our responsibility is to win those who remain in darkness. That said, however, all who are not of God are ultimately the enemies of God.
Secondly, as important as it is to lead righteous lives and therefore be examples to our non Christian family members, we ultimately must prioritize God. Parents, in-laws, siblings and cousins have no ability to save our souls. This is the sole domain of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Since he is our creator and redeemer, the one who died on the cross that we might live, all other relationships and priorities should pale into insignificance compared to our relationship with him. We are to love him with all our heart, soul and might.
Love your family. Love them hard and be the presence of Christ to them. But always put first the One from whom all blessings flow.
Loving Like Jesus,