These words of Jesus jar us, particularly here in the Wellington culture. Family is everything. What’s Jesus talking about here?
Jesus is making it clear that a radical relationship with Him has a way of forcing one’s hand, of revealing our ultimate loyalty. Staying connected to Jesus may mean being separated from someone else, even members of your own family.
Sooner or later someone will ask you, “But surely you don’t think I did the wrong thing, do you?” as he/she looks in your eyes waiting for your approval. What do you do if that friend or family member really did something wrong, something that goes directly against God’s Word? You hesitate. The person searches your eyes, waiting… Then the accusation comes, “Oh, so you do think I’m wrong, don’t you? Do you think you’re better than me? Who are you to judge?”
Quietly, you try to make it clear that you are no one’s judge, but the Bible does say…
So much depends on the other person’s heart. If he/she really wants to draw close to God, then that person will respond to God’s Word. If not, then the separation begins. You refuse to back down from what God clearly says in the Word. You are forced to choose, to take a side, and the drift begins.
Jesus’ words here are pretty direct. If you choose your friend or family member over Him, you are not worthy to be called His disciple. If you begin to modify your morality to fit your friend’s morality, you have abandoned Christ.
Jesus calls us to Himself. It is a call for ultimate loyalty. We must remain true to Him, no matter the cost. If we cling to our own life, we lose even that. The very source of our life, Jesus, is pushed away. Our vitality in God is then cut off. But if we give up our life for Jesus, we actually gain it and more in return. We give up our lives by putting ourselves in His hands every time the test comes; by refusing to back down and trusting God to work things out when the pressure is on.
James 4:4 asks, “Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you and enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make your self an enemy of God.” Heavy things. Jesus wants our undivided loyalty.