“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26
As a family man, I will admit that sometimes this verse has troubled me. Hate my father and mother, wife and children, my brothers and sisters. That is a tough pill to swallow and it seems inconsistent with Christ’s character and even his creation of marriage and family.
I recently read a devotional that brought a new perspective. It is about our identity. Many Christians are living as physical beings with a spiritual life. Jesus is reminding people that they are actually spiritual beings with a temporary physical life. Everything about this world is temporary, including us.
“The way of the world offers a lie that it can offer you security, though you are perfectly secure already.
The lie that your wealth can save you from irrelevance, though you are
The lie that your relationships-with children and spouse and friends-can satisfy your need for acceptance and love, though you are love itself as the light of the world.
The lie that your body or your status or your position can save you from unworthiness, though all that the Father has belongs to you already.”
(Dekker, The Forgotten Way, p.163)
Our identity must be that we were created in the image of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Our value in this world and our purpose for existing is summed up in our identity. When we get our identity wrong, we lose our purpose and we move further away from what God intended for us. When we find our real identity in Christ, then the things of this world lose their power over us.
Are you living for Christ?
Or are you living for the things of this world? Are you living to satisfy someone else? Is someone else the god of your life? This world and everything in it is temporary and to live for those things is a fool’s errand.
We can absolutely love our families, but they cannot be our primary identity, or attachment in this world. You are not primarily a brother, sister, son, daughter, father or mother, you are primarily a child of God, a resident of the Kingdom of Heaven, temporarily living in this world with worldly relationships. Jesus says we must deny even our own life to follow Him.
“We must not live for things that moth and rust destroy or even for the body that decays… To the extent these things command your ambition, significance, meaning, and purpose, they enslave you and blind you to who you are, complete and perfectly at peace in Him as the son or daughter of your Father.”
(Dekker, The Forgotten Way, p.164)
We must surrender ourselves to the Father each day, because the world will seek to distract us, lie to us and pull us away from the Father. The world’s lies are attractive, they promise safety, security, they promise peace, but the lie is that the world can’t deliver any of those things and to make it worse, in Christ, we already have all those things, we simply need faith in our true identity.