"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." -Matthew 10:37, 38
We live in a culture today where our idols define us. We may call ourselves a Christian nation, but more than that, we love the freedoms that we have because of it. There is nothing wrong with living a free life, but without God in it, or at the center of it, our lives will be lacking something immeasurably important.
I find it interesting that Jesus, when talking about the importance of loving others, goes from talking about loving others to saying, "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me." That's a pretty strong statement. I could see some households getting stirred up over that one. But do you know what? It refers to the power of idols in our lives.
Whenever we make something greater in our minds than God, whenever we love something more, care more about what others think, care more about what others do, that person or thing begins to sit on the throne of our heart, where God should be. We do it all the time, even with little things that get in the way. "I can't believe what he/she said about me!" we might say. But anytime other people's words define us that are not in agreement with what God says about us, we are letting that person become an idol to us.
Family is often the primary place we receive and establish our identities. If family isn't present to help with this process and point us toward God as our source for identity, or the effect of the family has been primarily negative, we'll go elsewhere to try and answer these questions: "Who am I, and what am I meant for?" Often the world has a myriad of answers that may not line up with what God says about us. Many of those answers through people we might look up to in music, in Hollywood, and in business. But are these people where we should find our identity and purpose in life? Are they correct in what they say we should be? Jesus says in the same passage, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." -Matthew 10:37, 38
Do someone else's thoughts define you? I pray that instead we be overcome by the loving power of God, and that he would sit on the throne of our hearts, telling us who we truly are in Him.
Related resource: Free Yourself, Be Yourself: Find the Power to Escape Your Past by Alan D. Wright