25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. Turning to them, he said, 26 “Whoever comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sisters—yes, even one’s own life—cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14: 25-27, CEB
We’ve been writing about what it means to be adopted into God’s family. This got me thinking about God’s thoughts about family in general, and I thought of these verses.
In the verses prior to this, Jesus describes what a typical dinner party in those days might look like. The guest list usually includes family members and rich neighbors. In that society, people who came to such a dinner party were then obligated to throw a dinner party of their own where they would invite the hosts of the initial dinner party. So, for example, if I threw a dinner party and invited my parents, then my parents would be obligated to throw a dinner party and invite me. Jesus points out in verses 12-14 that this teaches us a faulty lesson about giving and, in turn, teaches us the wrong things about family.
If we give only so we can receive then we’ve missed the point of being a part of God’s family. We give simply so that others may have. Jesus encourages his listeners to abandon their ideas about a typical guest list and instead asks them to invite the poor, the crippled, and the blind. These guests can’t possibly repay their host. But, more importantly, they are people in need.
Jesus isn’t telling us that we need to literally hate our parents in order to be his follower. He’s simply encouraging his listeners to go against the grain and to ignore society’s standards in order to live out God’s way of seeing. In order to live out that way of seeing, though, it requires sacrifice. It means going against what we want for ourselves and seeking someone else’s best interests. And, yes, it may mean snubbing some family members (depending on the circumstances).
This reminds me of the Northstar hospitality teams. And it reminds me of the Northstar Christmas brunch. We started this team and this brunch as a way of serving the guys at the Healing Place and our families who come on Saturday night and Sunday morning. I notice how the hospitality team and our “regulars” go easy on the food so that guests and children can have as much as they want. I see sacrifices of time, money, and even maybe hunger in these acts of giving to those who may or may not be able to give back. Last Saturday I saw a whole bunch of people giving up their Saturday afternoon and evening to sign Christmas cards for inmates and to put together bags of supplies for the homeless.
It’s this kind of sacrifice that defines God’s family.
How else can we sacrifice? What are some other ways that we can go against the grain in order to share the message of hope with hurting individuals and families?