Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Should I Teach My Kids to Hate Me?

I know, the title is provocative, but they are Jesus' Words, not mine. He says in Luke 14:26, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple."

I think American Christians are in danger of making family and family time an idol.

This may sound contradictory coming from someone who highly values family and spends most of her waking hours dedicated to her family. And it may sound counterproductive in a culture that is struggling to keep families intact, a culture where families are hard pressed to find time in a week to sit down to a family meal together and peer activities can threaten to steal all of our children's time. But let me explain.

Mark D. Roberts says in his post today in The High Calling, "... one prevalent barrier to Christian discipleship is too much attachment to family, especially as defined by cultural, traditional and personal values. During my parish ministry, I watched good church-going parents use the 'priority of family time' rationale to get in the way of their teenagers' growth as disciples of Jesus. Family time would preclude the regular involvement of their kids in Bible study groups. Family vacations kept their teenagers from being part of life-changing mission trips."

We parents have so much control over our kids. It feels good to be surrounded by our offspring. We feel like royalty when we're surrounded by them at the table--especially on the sentimental days like holidays. We send subliminal messages that our approval and even financial support is tied to expected behaviors of family loyalty above all else. But Jesus speaks a better Word.

Yes, the word hate is hyperbole, but he is making the point that our children are His first and ours second. That we should be raising them in such a way that their obedience and their first priority is Him and His kingdom, not me, as a parent, and my kingdom. We should be teaching them that serving Him is our highest joy and that familial love is an added gift.

If I, someday, am sitting alone with a book on Mother's Day because my children are elsewhere occupied with my Father's business, I will consider myself a success.