>Who Do You Love Most?

>Last weekend, two of my five granddaughters came to visit us. My wife Donna and I enjoy our grandchildren because, as you should know by now, they are the most precious grandchildren in the world.

When our grandchildren come to visit, they like to play games with us, and this time was no exception. One of my granddaughters (she is only six years old) was playing a game in which we had to answer her questions. We had to answer the questions in one minute or less or else we would lose points.

The questions began simply enough: “What is your favorite color?” I had no problem answering that question and the two that followed. Then, my granddaughter said: “Now, the questions will be harder.” I was kind of expecting that. What I did not expect was the question she addressed to me.

“Vovo,” (my granddaughters call me “vovo” which is Portuguese for “grandfather”), “who do you love most: the church or your grandchildren?”

That question stunned me. How could a young lady, six years old, come out with such a profound theological question? And I had only one minute to come up with an answer that was faithful to my commitment to Christ and my love for my grandchildren. All of a sudden, I was confronted with a very profound theological question for which I was struggling for an answer.

Immediately, the words of Christ came to my mind: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children [and I would add, grandchildren] and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

People misunderstand the word “hate.” In the Old Testament God said: “I loved Jacob. I hated Esau” (Malachi 1:1-3). In this context, as well as in Luke, the words “love” and “hate” are technical words, used to describe covenant relationship in which the word “love” and the word “hate” are used to mean “choose” and””reject.”

I doubted that my granddaughter could understand covenant vocabulary. She just wanted a simple answer. So, I gave her a simple answer.

I said: “Since the church is only a building, of course I love my granddaughters more than I love the church.”

I love my granddaughters but I was not very happy with my answer. When my granddaughter is older and understands the concept of heilsgeschichte and the shibboleth of covenant terminology, I may give her a better answer.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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8 Responses to >Who Do You Love Most?

  1. >I hope this blog lives long enough your granddaughter is grownup and can read & understand this answer 😉

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  2. >J.P.,Now you understand my problem. My hope is that she becomes a professor of Old Testament so that she can follow my reasoning.Claude Mariottini

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  3. >At that moment the questions will be much harder. But I hope she is then not only a good professor but also a true believer.

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  4. >J.P.,I agree with you, but my prayer is that she will be a true believer. If I had to choose between the two, I pray that she becomes a true believer.Claude Mariottini

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  5. Jeffrey says:

    >Praise the Lord JesusI may be wrong in this understanding but the word hate the scripture use is Love Less.Therefore, Love your Mother Etc. Less than Jesus. Jesus teaches us to Love so he could not be telling us to literally hate our Mother etc.

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  6. >Jeffrey,The issue is not hating our mothers. This is the reason I said people misunderstand Jesus' words.The issue is to put Jesus above everything else. The question was not "do you love Jesus more than me?" If that was the question, it would be easy to answer. The question was: "do you love the church more than you love me?" And that was the issue behind the question.Claude Mariottini

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  7. >Children say the most amazing things. I wonder if she see a difference between loving God and loving the church. When my niece was about 4 years old she told me "I know God wants me to obey my mommy, but sometimes I don't want to." My daughter's three and she shocked me last week when she told me "God told me to obey my parents." All I could say was "He told me the same thing." I'm glad God talks to children and starts drawing people even if they are young.

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  8. >Marcus,I agree with you about how amazing children are. Although they may not know, children at times reflect the most perceptive views of theological issues in their simple way.Enjoy your daughter because children are the most amazing gift from God.Claude Mariottini

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