Looking around at those who sat around him, Jesus said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” – Mark 3:34
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26
No one understood family better than Jesus and no one else in scripture took such a strong stand at forming the firm division between our relationships with our relatives and our relationship with God. Our love for our family must so greatly pale in comparison to our love for Jesus that even attempting to compare the two would make our love for family members look like hatred. Our love for God must necessarily pour out on to the rest of the redeemed community because Jesus (whom we love more than anything) said “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). So our love for Christ, if we truly love Christ, pours out on to those around us – especially the church.
Are we loving Christians more than we love our own families? If not then are we walking in step with Jesus who sharply divided the relationship between family and spiritual family? I am not saying we shouldn’t love our family members – while on the cross Jesus provided for Mary through the Apostle John by having him take her in to his household – Jesus loved his family on earth. We should love our families but we should love God’s family more.
If we come from harsh backgrounds then one temptation may be to treat our worldly families with contempt and treat the church as friends and then pat ourselves on the back for loving the church more than our worldly family. If we come from more pleasant backgrounds then another temptation may to refuse to love the church more than our family and thus idolize our families. The hardest path would be to truly love our families but intentionally view our brothers and sisters in Christ through the lens of knowing that Christ our savior dwells in them and therefore our love towards them is love towards Christ (Matt. 25:40) – our love for Jesus should naturally be superior to our love for our families. If our love for our families is greater than our love for Christ then either we have an idol that God is bearing with in our lives or we simply have not yet truly come to know Jesus as our savior. Also, having no love for our families or the church flies in the face of what a Christian is by definition (1 John 3:14).
I am convinced that I must love my brothers and sisters more as well as work harder to love my family – the higher priority being my brothers and sisters in Christ.