How Focusing on My Family Turned It Into an Idol

We may be keeping our families from experiencing God.

A couple of years ago, I was driving to my parents’ house down a neighborhood street. My kids Charlee and Hattie were in the backseat, whining I’m sure. As we approached my parents’, I noticed an elderly woman, probably in her 80s, walking down the street the same direction we were headed. In each arm, she toted a grocery bag, presumably from the convenience store a couple of blocks back. She was noticeably exhausted, walking with a limp, pausing every few feet to catch her breath.

Since we were going pretty slow, I had a good 30 seconds to make a decision. She clearly needed a ride. Buuut I had my 3-year-old and 1-year-old in the car with me. What if she’s dangerous? What if that’s not really milk in her bag but a bomb? What if she’s pretending to walk with a limp but she’s actually a 25-year-old man in disguise? I have kids in the car. My kids’ safety always comes first.

I passed her. I passed an 80-year-old woman with a limp carrying two bags of groceries. Because of my kids.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? We see someone in need or we feel the Spirit pulling us to speak to someone, but then something gets in the way.

Idols Are All Made of Gold.

Thankfully, that day God grabbed me by the neck and I headed back to help her.

Ashamedly, I swung a U and invited her into the passenger seat. She was so grateful and so precious. I took her about a half-mile down the road to a little shack, couldn’t have been much bigger than my living room, the grass taller than my kids. She gushed her thank yous and crept to the door.

That was the first time I realized what my “something” is: I loved my kids more than I loved Jesus, more than I loved bringing his Kingdom down to this earth.

That was the first (but not last) time I realized my family was my idol.

I loved my kids more than I loved Jesus, more than I loved bringing his Kingdom down to this earth.

The Gospel According to Our Idols

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the gospel the story of a man that lived in the middle of an affluent neighborhood and hung out with mostly Jews? I mean, he was still pretty nice to the Gentiles, but wouldn’t have pursued a deep relationship with them. Isn’t it about how he really loved all the religious people who went to church all the time?

And I’m pretty sure he tried not to associate with too many people that would “ruin his witness.”

Actually—hopefully you already know—this isn’t the Gospel of Jesus. This is the Gospel of cultural idols.

Jesus’ Gospel Kills Our Idols, Even Idols of Family

The true Gospel is about a man who calls us to sell out. Sell everything. Leave our families. He even says we have to love Him more than our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers.

Yes, Jesus want us to love Him more than our families.

What does it mean to raise children, to grow a family when I just want to tuck them under my wing and protect them from the whole world? Should I protect them from all the outsiders, the no-gooders, the “least of these”?

Raising children can be terrifying. Not only because this world is scary and the responsibility is huge, but because at some point Christian parents got the formula wrong. And kids aren’t buying it anymore.

Maybe that’s because they realized they couldn’t believe in something they’ve never seen. Sure, they’ve seen church. But maybe they’ve never seen God. How could they? They’ve been tucked under our wings the whole time.

In all of our protecting and in all of our keeping them separate what if we are not only protecting them from all the bad but we are preventing them from ever seeing God work.

On our way to my parents’ house that day, Charlee rattled off question after question about that sweet old woman. Who was she? Why did we pick her up? What was wrong with her? Why didn’t she have a car?

I explained to her that this is what people do when they follow Jesus. Sure, we’d read bible stories about it. We had talked about taking care of people that needed help. But that was the first time she got it. That was the first time it meant something to her.

And I’d almost let it pass me by. For her. Because, at least sometimes, I’d rather her be safe than saved.

Top Comments

Gail Goolsby

1

Gail Goolsby commented…

PERFECT example of how we are called to bring our kids/family INTO the MISSION and not make them "the Mission." We get this wrong too often and miss opportunities like this story tells to make the Gospel "real" to our kids who are watching and learning all the time in our presence. Well done, Dad!

Ben Moushon

1

Ben Moushon commented…

Saying your family is an idol is a bit extreme. Jesus says "it would be better to drown yourself than to harm a child". So, I feel like this scenario is just the realization that your relationship with Jesus needs some work. Kids were just an excuse. Most of us when seeing someone in need will go through the whole “they could be a terrorist or ax murderer” excuse regardless of whether their kids are in the car. I would say family is an idol when cheer practice is more important than youth group, baseball games come before church service, or basketball camp is priority over mission trips. Or even more condemning, when being seen at church in the right pew and wearing the right clothes is more important than worshiping and connecting with God to begin with. It's not easy but if we make sure our personal relationship with Jesus is right, involving them in ministry and teaching them to serve will be an integral part of keeping them beneath your wings as well.

2 Comments

Gail Goolsby

1

Gail Goolsby commented…

PERFECT example of how we are called to bring our kids/family INTO the MISSION and not make them "the Mission." We get this wrong too often and miss opportunities like this story tells to make the Gospel "real" to our kids who are watching and learning all the time in our presence. Well done, Dad!

Ben Moushon

1

Ben Moushon commented…

Saying your family is an idol is a bit extreme. Jesus says "it would be better to drown yourself than to harm a child". So, I feel like this scenario is just the realization that your relationship with Jesus needs some work. Kids were just an excuse. Most of us when seeing someone in need will go through the whole “they could be a terrorist or ax murderer” excuse regardless of whether their kids are in the car. I would say family is an idol when cheer practice is more important than youth group, baseball games come before church service, or basketball camp is priority over mission trips. Or even more condemning, when being seen at church in the right pew and wearing the right clothes is more important than worshiping and connecting with God to begin with. It's not easy but if we make sure our personal relationship with Jesus is right, involving them in ministry and teaching them to serve will be an integral part of keeping them beneath your wings as well.

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