There aren’t many situations for Christians more difficult than those involving choosing God over family. Consider the following:
A loved one claims to be a believer but wants to marry an unbeliever. So you’re unable to support the relationship.
Family members invite your child to stay with them, but you know they’ll be a negative influence on them. So you have to decline.
A relative is living in habitual sin and you have to confront the person.
There are examples in the Old Testament of individuals having to choose God over family members:
Moses called for the execution of the individuals responsible for the Golden Calf. This meant some Israelites had to kill their own relatives. Exodus 32:27 says, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’”
King Asa was one of the greatest reformers in the Old Testament. When he purged the idolatry from the land, he had to punish even his own grandmother. 1 Kings 15:13 records, “[Asa] removed Maachah his grandmother from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah”
Jesus is the premier teacher and example on this subject…
Miracle is one of my favorite movies, depicting the true story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic ice hockey team winning the gold medal by defeating the Soviet Union in one of the greatest upsets in history. The head coach, Herb Brooks, is very familiar with the players through coaching, scouting, and watching film. So he’s able to choose his team very quickly. The assistant coach, Craig Patrick, comes to talk to Herb on the first day of tryouts:
Herb: Take a look at this.
Craig: What’s this?
Herb: Twenty-six names. The tough part will be getting it down to twenty before the opening ceremonies.
The twelve disciples give us insight into the people Jesus would choose.
I taught elementary school before becoming a pastor. During that time I also did some coaching: high school and middle school wrestling, and elementary school boys’ flag football and girls’ basketball.
As much as I disliked losing, the one thing I disliked even more was tryouts; I hated having to choose some kids and not others. I think about this when considering Jesus’ “winning” team:
They were sent out with the Gospel (Matt 10:5-15).
They laid the foundation for the church (Eph 2:20).
They will sit on thrones ruling the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt 19:28).