Monday, January 18, 2010

Do You Hate Your Family?

What a horrible question.  Of course not.  I have never thought that out loud

Family is obviously important to me.  It’s so important that I have put my whole life and any thoughts of a career on hold because of it.  I heard so many people say over the holidays that it’s all about family.  That seems like the selfless answer doesn’t it? 

The idea of family gives some people hives.  It brings warm, fuzzy feelings to others.  Even in the church I think we’ve gone and made too much of family.  Just a little.

God made it clear that family was important. And it is. Marriage and children are great god honoring pursuits. 

But it’s not the most important.

The kids just asked me today why I didn’t want to live by Grandpa and Grandma.  The truth is, I did.  And for a long time I resented the fact that God did not seem to get on board with that plan.  I didn’t want to leave.

In the early years of living here I detested these verses and yet kept coming across them.

“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; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lost it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  Matthew 10:37-39

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sister – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.”  Luke 14:26

What on earth?  Why would Jesus say that?  All I’ve learned in church since forever is that He is all about love and happy families.  Dinner time.  Family worship.  And rainbows. 

What God has graciously taught me is that there is a more important family:  God’s.  Everyone who believes and trusts in Him is part of his family.  It’s our forever family that we’ll be with in heaven.  What He’s saying is your eternal family is more important than the family you love on this earth.  You need to be willing to give up your temporary family and even your  life on this earth for God’s work, building His eternal family and displaying His glory.

Jesus says this shortly after the verse about hating family:

“While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.  Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside, wanting to speak to you.”

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”  Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mothers and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  Matthew 12:46-50.

I am guessing that this was crazy to the Jewish people because their whole tradition and society hinged on family.  And now Jesus hates it?  Jesus is making a point.  I don’t think that necessarily means that he didn’t love His earthly mother or siblings.  It’s just that His mission was so important that it eclipsed even the great things in this life.

There are more important things to be done for the Lord than keeping our focus on our families.  I’ve found myself saying that we can’t move now because the kids are so happy and involved at their school.  They are getting to the age when it’s really difficult to switch schools.  That is not hating my family for the Lord.  If He wants us to move then we should go. 

Sometimes I feel bad that I  can’t be with my family for a birthday or vacation or babysitting.  I’d like to be able to rely on my parents or have big family dinners every Sunday.  What Jesus is saying is that we have a greater purpose. 


Our true forever family are the people who believe in Christ.  Hopefully our biological families are forever family too.  Even if we have to sacrifice being by them in this life, we can look forward to being with them for eternity.  Jesus tells us to do good to all, especially other followers of Christ. 

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  Galatians 6:9-10

We have an amazing church family.  They are our support and encouragement.  We celebrate birthdays with them.  We have the best thing in common: we are all living for the same purpose.  Wouldn’t it be great if I took all the time and energy I spend missing my family and poured it out into my church family?  I could have big family Sunday dinners every week. 

On the flip side are people who really do hate their family.  Their hate is usually for good reason.  Their family is the bane of their existence causing discord, stress and problems.  But don’t take this verse as an opportunity to pat yourself on the back saying, “God does say in the Bible we should hate our families” and claim to be doing the Lord’s work!

Because God also says that we should do our best to live at peace with everyone. 

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  Hebrews 12:14

God calls us to love everyone and want to see them come to Christ.  Then they will be part of our forever family and eternity with them will not be like Christmas dinner on this earth because we’ll all be perfected. 

There will be people that will be impossible to be at peace with.  But that doesn’t mean we should stop loving them and showing them grace.  There is nothing harder than to love difficult family members.  Most of us would rather love a bum off the street! 

We may have to lessen contact with them.  They may choose to live in a way that is inconsistent with the way you were raised.  They may be mean spirited and hypocritical.  But they are God’s creation and Jesus died for them. 

We can’t control how other people act.  But God to help us change our own hearts.  Especially by keeping bitterness at bay.   I’ve seen so many families totally destroyed by bitterness over the years.  It runs so deep and seems so senseless.  Don’t let your heart be bitter and ruin your relationships in the family.  Seek reconciliation and forgiveness.  With God’s grace you can keep your heart soft and loving toward even the most difficult people. 

Family.  It’s not easy but it’s also not all there is.  Don’t let it slip into the most important place in your heart and life.  That belongs to God alone.

1 comment:

Wayne Pederson said...

Your blog makes me want to cry. It hit close to home with me because we've made decisions that took us further away from our family. I hate that we can't live within 10 minutes of our kids and grandkids. Yet, how do you NOT be obedient when God calls you to something 1000 miles away? There are moments I grieve over this. Thanks for sharing your heart.