Loves Father More Than Me...
t first reading these words of Jesus seem to be coming from a galaxy far far away: Outrageous! How can we be expected to love Him more than our father, mother, spouses and children? Can he mean it? Was this not supposed to have made it into the book?
I was the first father to be in the delivery room to witness the birth of his child at Crawford Long Hospital. I have pictures; as some of you do from your similar experiences. It made me feel even more a part of little Lyns life, and her remodeling of our two person home. Three years later I was one of the very first fathers to watch the birth of his child at University Hospital in Augusta. One of my first thoughts was, now we three are four.
Our family has been close: Bonded by our many camping trips throughout the beautiful 48 states and foreign lands. We have celebrated many victories together, and suffered some down times together too. The question I ask when I read Jesus words is, How can I be expected to love anybody or anything more than my own precious family?
Did Jesus really mean what he said here? Whoever 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...
Many of us witnessed the wedding yesterday of Edward and Sophie at Windsor Castle and had a reminder of that similar set of words that we heard and responded to at our own weddings. The gospel was read and sung, and the challenge was given to go out and live the good news. Two persons, a man and a woman, a potential father and mother, joined into holy wedlock. Here we witnessed the very dawning of the family that is the heart and core of Christian society. How absurd it would have been for one man or one woman alone taking vows in a vacuum. No, it takes two.
Then, in a far deeper sense, it takes three. The Holy Spirit wants to bless and become a part of the wedding of man and woman. Indeed, whenever God is glorified as the foundation of a family the union is set in the right direction.
What Jesus is underlining in our text is that whenever we love Him more, then our love for each other is intensified and made pure. It is not that we love our spouses, parents, children any less; indeed, in Christ we love them more. What sounds at first like an outrageous statement by Jesus turns out to be the very secret and soul of the family.
An analogy might be that of the alcoholic, who has been restored to normal life to the point that friends think of him as cured. But, the alcoholic knows that he can fall at any moment and is thus constantly grateful for the higher power at work within his life that has given him resurrection of life, in life. He honors God supremely for it is the Heavenly Fathers power that sustains. And as a result of what God has wrought, the reforming alcoholic is able to love other people once again, and not just himself. He is grateful for restored relationships with once alienated father, and mother and spouse, and children. He loves them with all of his heart; yet, that revived love is day by day made possible because of his supreme love for the Holy Father who has saved him.
Likewise, we can only truly love our families and friends as we come to love Christ supremely. It can be thought of as something of a pyramid of relationship. Husband and wife, at the bottom of the pyramid, with God holding it together at the top. Thus it is true that whoever loves only the other person at the foot of the pyramid, and forgets the divine, is not able to know the fullness of love.
Even Further, our text says that after knowing Christian relationship, within our circle of love, we then are led to, ...take up the cross and follow... (v. 38). Our cross is our sense of ministry within our own circle of friends, family, and within the church; but additionally, our cross and calling draws out into a broader horizon of service to all humanity.
I hear this portion of Jesus words saying that unless we find our calling, our place in life, we will never find fulfillment no matter how high we think we have climbed on the ladder. Some folks spend their entire lives chasing after the success and stuff of this world, but then one day they stumble over the corpse of the person they could have been. The disappointment of old age is not in failures of our past, but in realizing that we were on the wrong road all along: And then that sought after career attainment ends in a forced early retirement.
What we are hearing in Jesus call to us is that there is a higher purpose to life that is quite beyond a mere seeking of success, status, or security. Indeed, life has taught us that the wisdom of Jesus is so true that; Those who find their idea of what life ought to be and reach their worldly goals will come to the place that they realize that all has been for nothing, but those who forsake worldly goals and seek their higher purpose will one day know the joy of having fulfilled the Fathers will. (paraphrase of v. 39).
Does this help us at all to fathom just a glimpse of what Jesus must have meant when he made the startling observation that we must love Him more than our beloved families?
I thank God that I had a father and mother that I was sure loved me as their son; but, I also am grateful that my earthly parents always loved their Heavenly Father first, and that was the source of their love for me.
My hope for each of you is that your children know this about you. If not, Fathers Day would be a great time to have a prayer together and to verbalize the truth of your relationship that is build on the Solid Rock.
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor