Gospel of Matthew, January 21, Day 19 of 58
37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
File this one under, “Hard Sayings of Jesus”. Obedience to God above trifling concerns above family is the principle here. Jesus used hyperbole (exaggeration for the sake of emphasis) to make a point about the way that people blindly are loyal to family traditions.
See this link for further study on this topic: https://www.gotquestions.org/convert-persecution.html
Think about the Hatfield and McCoys, several generations of these American families engaged in a blood feud in the 1800s and early 1900s in Appalachia. The blood feud became a senselessly violent family tradition that lasted decades. I think this is what Jesus is warning against. Following God will sometimes be too hard for your family to understand. My mother and father were the biggest supporters of my call to ministry. Other relatives were as well. However, among distant family, there were some naysayers. More importantly, I just did not fit in with their “honky-tonkin’” and “poker night” traditions. I think it is likely because my parents both decided to forsake destructive family patterns and cycles, and establishing new traditions as they were growing in their faith in Jesus Christ and imparting that faith to me.
Reminds me of the Hank Williams Jr. song called “Family Tradition:
“But lately some of my kinfolks
Have disowned a few others and me
I guess it’s because
I kinda changed my direction
Lord, I guess I went and broke their family tradition”
God, thank you for the gift of family. I know you know that it is not always easy to live in a human family. We can preoccupied with family traditions that go against our call to love neighbor. Help us to resist the temptation to follow blindly destructive and harmful patterns that have become habit in many families. Help us to live in the light, so we don’t have any need to hide our skeletons in the closet any more. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit I pray. Amen.