“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.”
Man. Jesus threw some doozies out there, and this one is no less controversial.
I’ve been reading “Not a fan.” by Kyle Idleman in the midst of flights and weddings and conquering Disney World in two days and supervising a ten year old daughter that knew better but still decided to bite into a neon glow bracelet and is now convinced her liver is radioactive and refereeing the latest sibling smack down before blood is drawn. I admit. It wasn’t easy with so much brain energy and physical fortitude required, but in the midst of all that chaos, this verse stood out.
Can I just say, that being a woman called into ministry is one of the hardest things in the world? Really. It’s right up there with the lion tamer and the “how sharp are these shark teeth” tester guys. (I mean, if there were such a job.) I could write a book on this impossible balance. It’s not easy. It’s hard. (I felt the redundancy there was necessary to prove my point.)
I love Jesus. Not a question. I love my family. Absolute fact. I will confess that if Jesus were in the flesh on this earth today, I would never leave His side. I would have never gotten married, had kids, or possibly gotten a bath…I would NEVER leave His side. Creepy? Maybe. But true. He is my first Love. I steal away with Him on picnics, talk to Him all day long, run every thought, plan, scenario by Him because I don’t want to ever feel disconnected from His plan, His purpose, His will for my life…which is most probably why I wasn’t meant to live when He walked on earth – the whole harvest and laborers ratio; plus, my kids are pretty darn cool and I have no doubt will eventually leave a distinguished mark upon this earth.
So why did that verse in Luke hit me so hard?
Because it’s not “cool” to love Jesus that much, to admit that you would choose Him over anything and everything in your life, given the choice. (Which just in case you are moments away from calling the men in white coats to haul me in let me state: I do not believe that Jesus asks us to make this choice, to choose Him and hate our kids or spouse or mom or dad or siblings. He simply asks us to choose Him. He provided those relationships and He did so with all such players in mind…but He asks that we love Him so much that in comparison our love for them doesn’t compare. Make sense?)
I will never forget the look of absolute disbelief my friend gave me when I admitted, “Losing my husband would be difficult, but it wouldn’t devastate me.” Now, in my defense, when I said this I was totally thinking about the significance and the absoluteness of the word “Devastate” – to ruin or destroy; I wasn’t thinking in an emotional sense of overwhelming grief. But, I was being completely honest, because (and this is where you might look at me weird and think I’ve flipped my switch) nothing and no one in this world holds enough significance in my life to destroy me. Depress me, upset me, hurt me, grieve me, or break my heart? Yes. But not destroy me. There is something about looking death in the face and meeting God’s love and grace that makes you realize that nothing is worth that again. Nothing.
Jesus is my Affection. Everything and everyone comes second to Him. We are told this is how it is supposed to be, what being a true disciple of Christ is, what relationship is all about…and yet, even the church criticizes those of us that think this way. (Unless you’re a priest or a nun, then you get a reprieve…well, kind of, because then they just think you are a closet pedophile or lesbian looking for cover in a habit or collar.)
“There is something wrong with you.” I’ve heard that before.
“Are you sure that you aren’t having an emotional affair with Jesus?” And my response was, “Is that even possible!?”
“You have some sort of misguided affection for your Saviour.” Because it seems to me that saying, “I would die for you” and then backing that up with actions seems just the right amount of affection for One that saved you…but maybe that is just me.
“You’re a woman…there should be a certain level of restraint even in your intimacy with Christ.” Wow. So the woman that admitted to me that she has so much difficulty with physical intimacy because of past abuse and misuse that she asks the Holy Spirit to love her husband through her and often lays naked before God in order to feel the purity of that state instead of the guilt and shame of before would probably be burned at the stake, and yet, I understand her. I understand that pain and that desperate need from a God that created her and has a compassion for her that never fails.
I’m a woman. A woman that loves Jesus. That gave my life up for Him. That has been spending my breath to give His back. Not because there is something wrong with me, or because I’m misguided or without restraint. But because He healed that which was wrong, He led me when I was completely off track, and He has taught me that His perfect Love casts out all fear…including the fear of losing someone that is most precious to me, or the insecurities of the looks that I get from others, the bitter gossip of those that don’t understand, and the lack of appreciation from those that haven’t experienced the intimacy that Christ’s Love affords.
I never want to be accused of choosing ministry (ie: work) over my spouse, my children, my family, and as a woman, a mother and a wife, the pressure of that is even stricter than on a man in ministry; however, I will always put my relationship with Christ first over any other role that I fill. Not to be separate but to be significant and inspirational, and if others can’t understand that, then they haven’t experienced the freedom that having Him first brings. Christ’s love affects me. And my affections are first for Him. Isn’t that what being a committed follower of Christ requires? According to Jesus, the red letter Voice, it is.