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No matter how rocky my family relationships were, they were always the most important thing in my life. I sacrificed much for them and did whatever I could to get their approval for years. If I had read Luke 14:26 while I was growing up I would have completely missed the point. At the stage in my life that I am now, all purely by the grace of God, I have a godly husband and child, have forgiven, am healing broken relationships with my family, and have a growing relationship with God through the blood of Jesus Christ. I can now better understand what Jesus is saying when He tells says to hate your family.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.Luke 14:26 CSB
When I first became a follower of Jesus I had no one in my life that understood, and most people discouraged me from going down this path at all. I was often mocked for my faith, my shortcomings were hung over me, and I was treated as though I could never be different, that my faith was a joke, and that it was for no one’s good. I lost my friends, I grew distant from my family, and I took time to focus on my relationship with God, my understanding of His Word, and being filled with the strength I needed to stand firm.
He gives strength to the faint
and strengthens the powerless.Isaiah 40:29 CSB
Luke 14 came to me again after spending some time with my dad recently, after not seeing him for around two years. In all that time I’d thought I was going to be separated from them forever. I thought I would never have a good relationship with my family. No matter how broken and hurtful my relationships were with my family, I have always deeply desired to be in a relationship with as much of my family as possible. I am big on family and this separation ate at me. I had made peace with being separated from them, though, because I knew God had called me to withdraw and I trusted His plan, even if it hurt and didn’t make sense to me at the time.
God removes distractions to bring our focus to Him
After spending time with my dad again I realized that I had needed to get to the point where I was willing to sacrifice those relationships in order to put God first. I needed to get to a point where obedience to my Heavenly Father was worth any price I was asked to pay, even separation from my earthly father, mother, brothers, and sisters. I needed to take people off the throne that only Christ belongs in my life.
Sometimes God will call us away from relationships in order to rightly align our hearts to Him. In Luke 14:26 Jesus is telling us that we should love Him so much that it would seem in comparison that we hate our own family. He is not saying to actually hate your family but to put obedience to and love for Him first no matter the cost. He is telling us that there is a cost to following Him and that we must be willing to put His will and instruction first in our lives at all times, no matter what that cost is, even unto our own lives.
To follow Christ we must to be willing to give our full life to Him
I experienced this on a bit of an extreme level over the last several years. After a while, I was willing to give up these relationships with my family in order to honor and obey God. In this willingness to obediently sacrifice these relationships, God changed my heart and my priorities. I no longer live to serve other’s expectations or desires for me or fulfill the labels people have given me all my life. I am firmly planted as a Child of God, and His will is the only one I strive to follow. This has brought me peace, joy, and great humility. God has been healing me and teaching me His truth, love, and kindness.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has[a] come!2 Corinthians 5:17 CSB
Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thoughts.Ephesians 4:17 CSB
To follow Christ you must let Him transform you
The last conversation I had with my family was that of forgiveness, love, and renewal. God has changed my heart, aligning my life and heart with Him, so that now I can be effective in all the work He has created for me to do for His glory, which includes being an example to my family. I prayed for them the whole time of separation, and I am seeing that God has been working in them as well. We are all works in progress, and He is always working in all of us whether we recognize it or not.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.Ephesians 2:10 CSB
Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people,Colossians 3:23 CSB
Are you faithfully following Jesus?
Is there something getting in the way of you putting God first in your life?
Are you obeying God over pleasing people in your life?
Are the labels given by those around you clinging to you, or the new name God has given you in Christ?
Are you loving Christ so much that it would be as if you hate your own family in comparison?
“If you love me, you will keep[a] my commands.John 14:15 CSB
If you love Him, you will obey Him. If you obey Him in faith and love, you will find such great blessing, humility, mercy, and grace. You will experience what love really means and truly feels like.
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Colossians 3:1 CSB
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.Deuteronomy 6:5 CSB
Are you willing to love God this much?