Let’s help each other understand the meaning of Matthew 10:37,
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.
In this chapter, Ortlund quotes extensively from Jonathan Edwards to make his case.
For me, at the outset, I think we have to frankly acknowledge the painful and terrible tension between Edwards’ theology and his complicity in slavery. Jason Meyer, among others, has reflected on Edwards’ grievous sin. Let’s be clear: “owning” another human being is wicked! The most substantial criticism I have of Gentle and Lowly so far is its omission of this part of the historical record. My own conviction is that if we have the time to provide praiseworthy reference towards Edwards then we also have the time to lament the evil of his participation in slavery.
Still, it is also true there are gems of insight in his theology. My hope is that understanding more of the goodness of God will help us to flee from our own sin. In particular, as we journey through this chapter, may God illuminate our hearts to oppose slavery and all forms of racial discrimination.
One quote from Edwards is this:
There is no love so great and so wonderful as that which is in the heart of Christ.
In what ways is Christ’s love “so great and so wonderful”?
One way that Christ wins us is with the beauty of his loving heart. Edwards explains:
Everything that is lovely in God is in Christ, and everything that is or can be lovely in any man is in him: for he is man as well as God, and he is the holiest, meekest, most humble, and every way the most excellent man that ever was.
How do we respond to beauty? Ortlund recommends a simple practice:
Why not build in to your life unhurried quiet, where, among other disciplines, you consider the radiance of who he actually is, what animates him, what his deepest delight is? Why not give your soul room to be reenchanted with Christ time and again?
As I consider this insight in light of Matthew 10:37, it is a humbling realization.
The natural love of a child for her father or mother is a powerful one. When we think of the intimate trust and even adoration of a little child for her parents, it is one of the sweetest and most moving sights we can witness. (And reminds us that abuse and neglect of children is something our Father in heaven passionately opposes).
And yet Jesus calls us to love him even more. The only way to make sense of this in our hearts is to ‘see’ and ‘understand’ the loveliness of Christ.
To take it from another angle, I might have wondered how anyone could ask me to love someone greater than my high school crush. At the time, that would have seemed unreasonable. But then I met the woman who became my wife. Now I can see that my juvenile understanding was not at all in line with a mature understanding of what is truly beautiful, lovely, and admirable.
How do you resolve the tension between the unique insight of Edwards’ theology and his participation in slavery?
What art or literature has helped you to better understand the loveliness of Christ?