Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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10 Obedient follower or obligated fan – Part 1

Luke 9:23, 57-62

23 ”Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

57 As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” 59 He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” 60 But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” 61 Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” 62 But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

As we come to Luke chapter 9 we see Jesus calling His disciples to a life of obedient commitment. This isn’t just a casual request this is a command of Jesus.  But today we seem to have settled for wearing a cross rather than bearing one. The question and concern for the church today is whether it is a sold out community of followers or just a social club full of fans? Jesus isn’t advocating a casual acquaintance but a life of continued commitment. This isn’t a once a week get together, this is about doing life together. A lot of Christians don’t mind a little Jesus once a week, but what about every morning when we wake? We don’t mind Him making minor changes in our lives, may be a little tinkering under the hood, but Jesus isn’t thinking tune up, He’s thinking overhaul. We don’t need a little touch up we need a total renovation, a radical remodel. Its not about a little makeup, we need a makeover. This isn’t about slapping a Christian fish sticker on your bumper it’s about being a sold out follower.  Jesus didn’t step out of eternity and into time here on earth so that we would be better behaved, but for us to be saved. He didn’t come to tweak our manners or smooth out some rough spots but to do a total transform. The truth is that Jesus didn’t come to change me but to kill me. Because it’s only when I die to self, and surrender to the Savior, that I find true satisfaction in this life. As long as I fight Christ for control I will never be content. So following Jesus requires a focused commitment to deny self, take up our cross of suffering and serve Him. This isn’t just some theoretical teaching it’s a practical pursuit of Jesus and many people often fail to connect verses 57-62 with verse 23. Where we see at the end of the chapter three examples of people who proclaim to be followers but end up satisfied to just be enthusiastic admirers. In their excuses we discover that what keeps them from following  is really what hinders and holds the majority of us back from following Him. In verse 57 as they are walking along we find our first fan, a man who claims commitment to Christ and says “I will follow you wherever you go.” Notice the word wherever, this appears to be commitment without reservation, yet Jesus responds: “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” Jesus knowing his heart confronts him with the choice between comfort and commitment. Jesus is drawing attention to the fact that this man loved comfort more than he did following Christ. I wonder is comfort what is holding you back? The call to take up our cross and follow Christ, is in direct conflict with our desire to be comfortable. We are by nature comfort seekers more than Christ seekers. A true follower is not concerned with the question “How can I be comfortable, but how can I be committed” The sad reality is that many of us are not following Christ, we are chasing comfort. As a result comfort has become our God, it’s what we live for, strive for, sacrifice for, and serve. It is here that Jesus makes it clear that there is nothing comfortable about the call to follow Him. Think about the relationship you have with Jesus and answer this question: Is it one of convenience, or commitment? This man started by speaking words of commitment, but when Jesus painted him a picture of what commitment to Christ looked like his desire to follow seems to fade. I think there are a lot of people who have made the decision to come to Christ for eternal life but have never really carried through on their commitment to live for Christ. When it comes to Jesus how in are you? Are you sold out for the Savior or is it more of a surface thing?  Are you a fair weather fan or faithful follower? There are many who say I really like the Savior I just don’t like serving, sure I love Christ just not His Church. This seems to be the tragic trend today, Christians that claim Christ without commitment. Sold out on the surface instead of deep down in the soil of their soul.  We are completely committed to follow Jesus as long as we don’t have to forgive the one who hurt us. The truth is we are more committed to the bondage of bitterness and resolute in our resentment than we are in our relationship with the Redeemer. We say that we are totally committed to Jesus yet don’t trust Him with our tithe. We are supposedly sold our yet refuse to surrender our sex life to His Will, continuing to do what we want. Instead of carrying the banner of Christ courageously we wear it carelessly like casual, loose fitting clothing. But following Jesus isn’t the latest fad. We don’t get to pick and choose which of His teachings to follow. The bible is not some buffet that you belly up to and take what look good while dismissing what doesn’t. Today many parents are in a panic because their grown kids seem careless to the cause of Christ. When kids walk away from Jesus parents often ask two things: What happen, and What do we do? As a pastor I have pondered and poured over this question for quite some time and the crushing conclusion I have come to is that we may be raising our kids in the Church, but are we raising them in Christ? If not then we might be the ones training them to be fans and not followers of Christ. So what do we do, stop trying to herd and harassing them into a life with Jesus and start modeling what it looks like to follow the Master in our own lives. The problem is that what many parents seem to want for their kids is a little bit of God with some biblical morals but not a bold belief to where their kids are sold out for the Savior.  But may be the most dangerous and disastrous way to raise our kids is with a dash of Jesus, just like an inoculation, where a little bit makes you immune to the real thing. So what are you committed to, Christ or comfort, and which are you teaching you children to follow?