You read that correctly. Your spouse is not the most important person in your life. If your spouse is in the number 1 spot, you better move him or her down to number 2, or else your priority structure will lead to dysfunction. I know this seems counter-intuitive. You may be thinking, “but my marriage is the most important bond I have?” After all, it is a covenant, but there is a covenant greater than our marital bond that we can never forget about, and that is our bond with Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ words:
“For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:35-39, ESV
Why does Jesus say, “a person’s enemies will be those of his own household?” It almost sounds like He wants us to reject our families/marriages for Him. That is not true; however, He knows that the reality for many is to put family as a god before Him. If we are not willing to lose our families, we are sending Him the message that family comes first. If our family is first, that becomes an enemy to our growth in Christ and His lordship in our life. You may be thinking at this point, “of course, Jesus wants to be first. So, why is this so important?”
If your marriage or family is first then you when you lose them, it will rock and possibly shatter your faith. For example, when my dad died suddenly in a car crash at the age of fifty-two, there was a temptation to angrily ignore God’s plan and providence. Grief is the most difficult test one can withstand. And had family been at priority number one rather than number two, it would have been easy to succumb to the temptation to reject Christ. It is inevitable that family will fail us. Even if they don’t reject us and become our enemies for following Christ, families can potentially hold us back if we give them too much focus. Families will fail. Spouses and loved ones will die. Unfortunately, sometimes, spouses run away, break covenant and never return. The horrible grief that follows these terrible, painful occurrences can weaken faith that had not been prioritized.
This may seem confusing. Jesus is about love and peace and family. How could He say this? Jesus still holds up those ideas, but following Him is the most important commitment that we can make. Our family relationships should not take away from our dedication to Christ, but instead they should uphold that. In other words, we need to acknowledge that Christ is the most constant. If we put our faith in people, they will fail us. If we put our faith in Christ and follow His teachings for how we are to interact with others, He will guide us into true living, love and peace.
God cares about your marriage. Your marriage is incredibly important and a strong, meaningful covenant. Your family is a high priority. God makes that clear throughout scripture, but here in this passage, Jesus reminds us that following Him is more valuable than anything else in life. We must remember this. Healthy Christian marriages embrace this. Jesus is the most important person in your life. Your spouse and family are secondary, and it is a beautiful, functional structure.
by Emily Nilsen, Director of Communications for NAME.