Weird, different, unique, out there, special. These are all words that most of us are not fond of being called. We don’t like these words because they are often used to let us know that we are not part of the group. We might even be alone in our thoughts and perspectives. Intentionally or not, most of us work hard to be part of a group; to find people who think like us, who work with us, who include us.
Jesus apostles were no different, and one day as they are speaking, he gives a challenging set of instructions to the group, “For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;” (Matthew 10:35-37, NIV) So Jesus came to cause friction and division within families? Jesus doesn’t appreciate family values? Take a moment and reread this verse, and you will see Jesus has something else in mind. Jesus has nothing against families, but is trying to make something clear; your primary love and loyalty needs to be to me, not anyone or anything else. For Jesus to say this at that time in history would have been almost heretical. Family was the center of people’s world; you lived with your whole extended family, so for this man to challenge that value ruffled a lot of feathers.
But what is Jesus actually saying? Your loyalty, your first love, your greatest love needs to be God, over and above anything else, even your family. It sounds simple, love God 1st, but we battle with this daily in our own lives. Some people vote a straight ticket on party lines every election cycle, sometimes without even researching the candidates, because I need to be loyal to my party. Does any political party ALWAYS represent Christian principles in all their thoughts and deeds, no. On a number of national Holidays Americans get out their red, white, and blue to show their patriotism, loyalty and pride of our nation. There is nothing wrong with this display or even excitement in representing theUSA, but do we confuse love of our nation with our love of God? Do we seek to be loyal to our nation over and above God? We love our family, but what if our family spurs dissention or division within our church, our schools, our workplaces? Do we remain loyal to our family, or seek to live as Jesus called us? When our friends make some questionable decisions do we follow along, or stand apart from the group, and potentially be labeled as, “different, strange, and not part of us?”
Jesus’ message is clear; our #1 love and loyalty is to God. Over our church, over any tradition, family, friend, nation, political party, or viewpoint. So who do you love the most? Where does your loyalty rest?
- What can be hard about making God #1 in your life?
- What is one place in your life the lines of loyalty are blurred between God and something else?
Read all of Matthew 10 to see a whole set of instructions Jesus has for His disciples about what it means to be His follower.