For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;' and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own 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.
If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. How can the 'Prince of Peace' (Isaiah 9:6) say such things?
Here's how: Our 'Wonderful Counselor' is also 'The Sun of Righteousness' (Malachi 4:2), burning wrong orders; He is 'That Spiritual Rock' (1 Corinthians 10:4), crushing wrong values. He is the 'Chief Cornerstone' (1 Peter 2:6) of a new Covenant, the 'High Priest' (Hebrews 3:1) of a new church and 'The Firstborn' (Romans 8:29) of a new family.
Among his earliest disciples, Jesus was a tough Teacher. One particularly hard lesson, one concerning communion, they did not understand; 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?' (John 6:60). So most of His followers stopped following: 'From this time many of His disciples turned back...' (John 6:66).
Actors, models and talent for Christ: God is clear on the subject of family: children, obey your parents; wives, respect your husbands, husbands, love your wives; fathers, don't embitter your children; families, care for your kin. Orphans, widows, strangers, aliens and all who are forsaken: God will Personally attend to your needs.*
But above all, love Him first. 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' (Luke 10:27). If He loved us enough to give His only begotten Son to a terrible death on a lonely Cross, must we not return this unmerited favor?
Must we not prefer Him to our own families? Here's the thing: Jesus faced a family feud, as did many Bible heroes, like Joseph and David. Surely, Mary's parents weren't happy with her agreement to an unplanned pregnancy. Surely, Abraham's father was disappointed with his decision to follow an unseen God to an unknown land. But heroes must know their purpose and stick to it--no matter what.
Here's another thing: God will take better care of your family than you, especially if you've sacrificed your comfort for His cause.
So don't let the feuds of unbelieving brethren stop you. Continue and be encouraged. Joseph's hateful brothers became the Founding Fathers of Israel. His family was reunited, as will be your own, and it will grow to a size you could never imagine.
'My mother and My brothers are these who hear the Word of God and do it' (Luke 8:21).
To Be Continued...
* 'When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me' (Psalm 27:10).
* 'The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit' (Psalm 34:18).
* 'God sets the lonely in families' (Psalm 68:6).
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Dream Haters series.