During World War I one of my predecessors at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Donald Grey Barnhouse, led the son of a prominent American family to the Lord. He was in the service, but he showed the reality of his conversion by immediately professing Christ before the soldiers of his military company. The war ended. The day came when he was to return to his pre-war life in the wealthy suburb of a large American city. He talked to Barnhouse about life with his family and expressed fear that he might soon slip back into his old habits. He was afraid that love for parents, brothers, sisters, and friends might turn him from following after Jesus Christ. Barnhouse told him that if he was careful to make public confession of his faith in Christ, he would not have to worry. He would not have to give up improper friends. They would give him up. As a result of this conversation the young man agreed to tell the first ten people of his old set whom he met that he had become a Christian.

If Jesus is God, then the demands of his kingdom become even more radical than we have hitherto imagined. When we hear Jesus saying that we must hate our fathers and mothers, wives and children, in order to be his disciples, that seems shockingly extreme. But if he is God, it is not extreme at all. If he is God, nothing he could possibly demand could be outrageous. If he is God, we owe him total obedience and total self-surrender. Yes, even our own lives are not too much to give in his service.

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - a man's enemies will be the members of his own household' " (Matt 10:34-36). It is after this that Jesus speaks of loving a father or mother, a son or daughter, more than himself. In this context the words in Matthew are not essentially different from those in Luke.

Quite frequently, when I am conducting weddings, I point out that the family is the most basic of all human institutions. The family was the first school; from the education that took place in the home all other institutions of education - grade schools, academies, colleges, and vocational institutes - developed. The family was the first hospital; healing and nursing originally took place within the home. The family was the first government; from a father’s leadership in his home came patriarchal, monarchical, and eventually democratic forms of human rule. If the family stands, society stands. If the family falls, these other forms of social achievement and order will fall with it.

In order to be a disciple, I must pay the price of my own understanding of life, of what it is all about, and of what ultimately matters. I must surrender my confused and contradictory opinions to the revelation of God in Scripture. I must never attempt to correct or second-guess God. But when I bring every thought into captivity to Christ, I find true liberation. As Jesus said, "...you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).