As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
For today’s blog, I have question right at the start: when you consider the cost of following Jesus, what comes to mind?
I’ll give you a few seconds to think…
As I started to ponder that question, I began to think of things, outward things that I believe proved I was a Christian: making sure I have K-Love radio playing in my office cubicle…putting a Jesus fish on the back of my car…sponsoring a child or maybe even two from Compassion International…
I’m not trying to step on any toes (please forgive me if I do). All of those things are good and I believe are well-intended. But I find it interesting to compare what following Christ looks like to us today, in 21st century America, versus what it must have looked like in Jesus’ time. I wonder if some of the “sacrifices” we give up in order to be a disciple are truly sacrifices at all. How would we compare to the original 12 disciples to whom Jesus said “Follow me”?
I’m not a huge reader but lately I’ve been reading a book that has shaken me to the core: The Last Arrow by Erwin Raphael McManus. In every McManus book I have read, I have come to the conclusion that as Christians we often live too soft and too comfortable. The true life of faith God intends for us is tasted by so few. The Scripture passage I quoted at the top of this entry was included in a chapter in The Last Arrow in which the author speaks of a need to let go of past things (comfort, security, predictability) in order to establish a new future; a future marked by a radical pursuit of Christ. McManus takes the words of Jesus to establish this truth, a lesson He repeatedly gave to those seeking to follow Him: “You cannot follow me into the future if you are holding on to your past” (pg. 39).
As I evaluate all of these things and examine my life, I realize that in order to follow Jesus and display Him more fully, I have to put myself in positions that stretch me and make life uncomfortable at times. The outward things are ok (K-Love, Jesus fish, etc) but they are really just drops in the ocean and small in impact when considering what Christ is calling us to: “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God…No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Ouch. My Americanized, drive-by faith is so small and of so little depth that the world around me barely takes note.
So what are we to do? We have to display a faith that seeks to match up with the depth Christ has displayed first to us. He went to the ends of the Earth to find us; why should we not do the same for Him? That doesn’t necessarily mean you must be a missionary to Africa; it might just mean you need to witness to your neighbors and co-workers (which in reality might be more scary than Africa!). Really the first step is to ask “Lord where do you need me to serve You today?” and then wait in expectation that He will show you. Listen to the still, small voice that says “This is the way; walk in it." (Isaiah 30:21)
The title of today’s blog “All That You Leave Behind” points to what we give up as we follow Christ: our own rights to our own lives to live as we please. To follow Christ means to deny yourself and pick up your cross, knowing that is what He first modeled. If you hold onto your life too tightly, you will lose it. But give it up freely for the Lord’s sake and you will find it.
I’m hoping this entry will stir and convict. It is a message resonating within me lately and it has become a restlessness in my spirit which I cannot shake. I’m trusting I am not alone in this thought. Please reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know how I can pray for you as you follow after Jesus. God bless you today!
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. Luke 9:23,24