Matthew 10:37-39 He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.
What does this mean? There are 2 things people in this world like to talk about, they are: what I have, and what I want. What I have is supposed to make me feel special. What I want are those things that we imagine will make us feel even better. And in this world view, life is all about keeping what I have and getting what I want. When we see these things in others, we say that it is selfishness and sin. And many people believe that the answer to such sinful selfishness is putting families first. The problem is that often this is just a different type of selfishness. People are not tools that we are to use to keep what we have and get what we want. But there is something bigger at stake - and that's what is really important - is keeping what I have and getting what I want really what life is all about? What is most important? That's the question behind a recurring question in the Gospels, people keep asking Jesus what is the great commandment. And the answer is always the same, love God with all your heart and all your soul, all your might, and all your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.
So, why love God? That's the old, old story, of Jesus and his love. You see while we were sinners and enemies of God, God loved us so much that he have is one and only son, to suffer and die for our sins that we might be forgiven and find peace with God. God loved us, and did something about it. God loved us and gave us a precious gift. God sent his son to redeem us from sin death and the power of the devil, not because we deserved it, not because we had earned it. God gave us this gift in love because we needed it and we could not do it ourselves. God provides, God brings to our life all that is necessary, from our daily bread, to our friends and family God gives in love everything we need. The most important thing is that God loves us, and the love of God changes us. We love only because God first loved us. Because God has loved us we follow him, because God has loved us, we know that He is the giver of all good things.
Here's the problem, since all love comes from God, if God doesn't come first - we don't have the love we need to love ourselves or to love our neighbors. If God doesn't come first, then life is about keeping what we have and getting what we want - that life is sinful, selfish and empty. It does not bring peace, it does not bring rest, it does not bring relief. A life without God is really a living hell. Because we know that in the selfish life, the more you have, the more you have to hold onto and the more you have the more you want. How do your free yourself from this quick sand of want and desire?
You can't free yourself, not by your reason, not by your strength, and the more your hang on to what you have and what you want, the more you sink into the quick sand of doubt and despair. You cannot free yourself - but if you know the love of God that is ours in Christ, if you know that God really cares for you, if you know that God knows you better than you know yourself, if you know God's promises to you, promises of peace, life and salvation - then the love of God which is ours in Christ will enable us to let go, and let God. The love of God which is ours in Christ will enable us to let go of what we have, and to let go of what we want, and to cling only to the life and salvation that is ours in our Savior.
If we have Jesus, then we have something to give to others, and something worth giving, something that really can make a difference. If we have Jesus in our hearts, then we can give the love of God in Christ to all we know and all we meet.
We let go of what we have, or what we want, we loose our old life, and God brings to us a new life in Christ. This is why God comes first, this is why the church is always about teaching the good news of the love of God in Christ, and this is how we can love our families and love or friends and love our neighbors, by always putting God first - because without God's love, we are nothing.