The FX show The Americans follows the twists and turns of a married couple with children who are Russian spies living in Northern Virginia in the 1980’s. There is espionage aplenty between the EEEEvil Ruskies and the Mericans back in the Cold War. But the series is also an emotionally-charged portrayal of a marriage and the struggles involved in raising “Americanized” children.
These spies, Phillip and Elizabeth, have dedicated their entire lives and personal identifies to Communist ideals and the shifting winds of the Soviet power structure. Even the couple’s marriage to each other was arranged by their spymasters.
What are these parenting struggles, you may ask? Well of course, the normal parent-teen sort of conflict and confrontation. But The Americans adds a layer of drama that isn’t found in, well, probably any other household in the country.
For example, the Communist couple is being approached by their Russian handler to consider letting them recruit their teenage daughter, Paige, as a spy. The thing is, Paige doesn’t even know that her parents work for the KGB, and to boot, she has been going to church and wants to be baptized!
Now just to clarify, Communism is the farthest thing from a fan of Christianity, and like most parents, Phillip, especially, is not fond of the idea that his little girl might be forced into a deadly profession.
But what would you do if you were in Paige’s situation?
If you found out that your parents were enemy spies, would you rat them out or keep their secret? If your mom and dad approached you about joining them in the espionage business, would you sign up or completely reject the offer?
I seriously doubt these situations will ever come up in your life, but there is one more that is a possibility. If your mother or father forbade you from going to church or being baptized, would you obey God’s Fifth Commandment, which is “Honor your father and mother”?
Or would you lean more towards Jesus’ jaw dropping imperative:
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-26).
Wait just a second…how can we follow the Ten Commandments by “honoring our mother and father,” and hate our mother and father to be Jesus’ disciple???
Such are the apparent contradictions of God’s Word that encourage some to doubt its truth. But what Jesus teaches here in no way negates or denies the Fifth Commandment.
Well under normal circumstances, your parents are looking out for you. Their rules and wishes are designed to keep you from harm and consequence, so in the Ten Commandments, God is saying something sort of like this—“Look kids, your parents brought you into this world, and they have to answer to me for the way they raised you, so it is in your best interest to bring them honor and obedience!”
But then there are the less than normal situations—although they were especially frequent when the Bible was written—when parents refused to allow their children to follow Jesus Christ. Our Lord knew this day would come, so He draws a line in the sand to say (again, my paraphrase here)—“Look kids, your folks brought you into this world, but you have to answer to me for my invitation to be my disciple, so it is in your best interest to hate them in this case!”
And by “hate,” Jesus does not mean an emotional response. In that culture, the word “hate” is used in the sense of preference and priority. So if your parents get in the way of your commitment and obedience to Jesus Christ, you must make Him your first choice.
That’s why Jesus goes on to say that you have to even hate your very own life, because sometimes you are the biggest obstacle to being sold out to Jesus.
Some of you out there know what I’m talking about, because you’ve had to make the difficult choice of disobeying your parents in order to obey God’s calling to go to church, be baptized, or even follow THE Cause and share His message with others. If that’s you, hold on to this promise:
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:29, NIV).
You may “lose” family and friends here on earth as you follow Jesus, but know that when you get to heaven, you will gain back more than 100 times what was lost.
So should we hate our family? Well, I hope that Paige gets baptized and gets as far away from the KGB as possible, but more importantly, I hope that your love and devotion to Jesus Christ makes everything else pale by comparison!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Following Jesus is an amazing journey through life, and sometimes it requires us to make tough choices about our allegiances. If you are faced with these dilemmas, know that Jesus is with you every step of the way!
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Father, help us to keep You as our top priority in life, even if it means being rejected by our own family and friends. May we keep our focus on THE Cause and the hope of heaven as we go through the trials of this earth.
Read: Matthew 10:37. “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine” (NLT).
Get: Fearless Tour Tickets! Get your tickets NOW for Dare 2 Share’s Fearless Tour. It will motivate and mobilize you to go all in for Jesus and keep your relationship with Him your #1 priority. Can’t make it to the event? Then pick up a copy of the Fearless student devo. It will help you learn how to fearlessly live a life that brings glory to Jesus.
Discussion Guide for Leaders
Want to share this with your students? Copy and paste the following text message: “How can we follow the Ten Commandments by “honoring our mother and father,” and hate our mother and father to be Jesus’ disciple?” Find out in this week’s devo: http://hubs.ly/y0tQGZ0“
Big Idea: When Jesus tells us to “hate” our family, He means that our relationship with Him should be our #1 priority.
Key Scripture: Luke 14:25-26
- What would you do if you found out your parents were spies?
- Have your parents ever asked you to disobey Jesus? If so, what happened?
- What do you need to hate in order to keep Jesus as #1?
- How can you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause?