I Love You More Than (Part II)
In this current series, we are affirming that we love God more than and today we will be affirming that we love God more than anyone else, even our family. Perhaps yesterday, you and your spouse celebrated Valentine’s Day and, for even the briefest of moments, you were the only two people in the world; nothing could have come before your spouse. This is God’s desire in a relationship with us, and it is Jesus’ requirement in following Him: if we are serious about our commitment to the Lord, then nothing can come ahead of Him in our hearts and lives.
The Bible has a lot to say about family, especially the importance of it. 1 Timothy 5:8 states, “But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.” Family and how we love and care for our relatives is very important to God. So important that He says if we don’t care for our relatives we have denied the true faith and are worse than unbelievers. This is the only time in Scripture I can find where God says such a thing, so the importance of family to God cannot be understated. However, nothing should come before Him and Jesus makes this point in Luke 9.
“He said to another person, ‘Come, follow me.’ The man agreed, but he said, ‘Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:59-60)
Jesus told the man to come and follow Him but the man put something ahead of Jesus. If Jesus calls you and your first response is “okay, but first,” then there’s a problem. If you’re a parent, you know how irritating the word “but” can be. You tell your child to do something and they respond with “okay, but first.” We want our children to listen and obey the first time and without talking back because talking back is a sign of disrespect. This is what happened with Jesus and this man. Jesus told him to do something, “follow me,” and his response was to talk back. In verse 60 Jesus pointed out that nothing comes before Him and God’s purpose for us.
“Another said, ‘Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:61-62)
Jesus got another “but first” response. I like what Tim Keller writes about this passage:
“Anyone who plows a field must be completely focused on plowing. And following Jesus is no different, ‘My disciple has to be utterly focused on me.’ By the way, ‘fit for the kingdom’ is an unfortunate translation; the word there means ‘useful.’ You might think he’s saying, “Unless you’re totally committed, you don’t qualify for my kingdom.” Of course no one qualifies for Jesus’ kingdom. It’s all by grace. He’s saying: Unless delighting Jesus, resembling him, serving him, and knowing him is your highest priority, the healing power of the kingdom of God will not be flowing through you. You will not be a useful vehicle for it.”
Jesus is being very clear; it’s all or nothing. If you want to follow Jesus, it must be a full commitment; nothing can come before Him, not even our family.
Nabeel Qureshi was one of the most outspoken apologists of modern day. He was born in California to Pakistani immigrants and his upbringing was centered on Islam. By the age of 5, Nabeel had read the entire Qur’an and memorized many chapters. Nabeel met a fellow student in college named David Wood who was a devout Christian, and hoped to become an apologist. The two became friends and often debated each other over several years. Nabeel was open to investigating David’s claims about Christianity and came to the conclusion that “he could not reasonably hold to the idea that Muhammad is the greatest of prophets and history’s most perfect man.”
The final evidence that convinced Nabeel of Christianity’s truth were three vivid dreams. After the dreams, Nabeel sought out knowledgeable Muslims who could answer the arguments against Islam but Nabeel found that the arguments for Islam “were far from approaching the strength of the case for Christianity.” Nabeel speaks about his conversion and what it cost:
“I began reading fervently, reaching Matthew 10:37, which taught me that I must love God more than my mother and father. ‘But Jesus,’ I said, ‘accepting you would be like dying. I will have to give up everything.’ The next verses spoke to me, saying, He who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake will find it.(…) A few days later, the two people I loved most in this world were shattered by my betrayal. To this day my family is broken by the decision I made, and it is excruciating every time I see the cost I had to pay.” 
Nabeel had to give up his family to follow Jesus. Loving God more than your family probably won’t mean losing your family like it did for Nabeel, but we must love God in the same way: with nothing less than all our heart, mind, and soul. Remember God’s love for us, that He did not hesitate to give up His son to save us. Affirm today that you love God more than anyone else, that He comes first in your life, and that you will go about His work without looking back.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.