Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “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.
For a religion that fancies itself family-centered, this passage can be confusing. It might be easy to dismiss it as “out of context” with our modern lives, merely a metaphor for the difficulty of discipleship in a patriarchal society.
But such a quick dismissal of the passage isn’t possible for me. Following God’s call has led my husband and me to the other side of the world from family and close friends. For some, this might not seem that bad, but I happen to like my family, and grew up around grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We have worshiped together, lived together, grieved together, and celebrated together over the years. Since moving, I’ve missed weddings and long weekend trips; I’ve also missed the informal get-togethers thrown for no other reason than “we made too much food,” “I was in the neighborhood,” or “the dog needed to be walked.”
Where I Am
At times, I feel acutely what I have given up. When the days are tough, I miss the comfort and familiarity of my family. One day when my son was only a few months old, he would not settle for me (my husband was at work). I found myself wishing I could just call my Mom – a hug from her and a break from the crying would have been so nice. Instead, I decided that what she would do if she were around was just sit and rock him until he quieted down, so that was what I did.
It can be difficult, too, when I see others living near their families, enjoying the things
I’m missing. At a meal with friends one evening, I overheard some grandparents discussing the many benefits to living near their grandchildren. They could watch them during the day, have them for overnights, and enjoy each milestone of their lives. While our parents have watched our son eat his first spoonfuls of cereal via video, it is certainly not the same. He has four living great-grandparents who have yet to meet him in person, one of whom won’t meet him until after his first birthday. The freely available babysitting of a local grandparent would be nice, too. Does this mean that those local grandparents shouldn’t treasure their time with their grandchildren? Absolutely not; they are grateful for what they have, for where they are.
Why is it that some are called near family and others away from family? How do I reconcile the call to “hate family” when much of Scripture, even the New Testament, points to its importance? Must I truly reject my biological family, most of whom are also my family in Christ? Next week, I’ll discuss my thoughts on these questions, and the journeys I’m taking to their answers.
Thoughts? Questions? Leave me a comment; I’d love to hear from you.
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