Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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11 Obedient follower or obligated fan – Part 2

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.”

In verse 59 we meet fan number 2, this time we see Jesus offering the man an opportunity to “Follow Him”. The 1st man made an offer to Jesus, this man receives an offer from Jesus. What a great privilege this man received, for these are the same words that Jesus said to the Peter, James, John, Andrew, Matthew, and others. Jesus is still calling men and women to “follow Him” in fact the last great invitation in the Bible in Revelation 22:17 says: “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.” When invited to follow Jesus at first he readily agrees, but then says, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” Jesus gave this man an invitation and the man wanted to accept it, but he decided that he had something that was important to him. Jesus response was, “Let the dead bury their own dead, your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” Immediately after agreeing the very next thing out of the man’s mouth was, first. His first act is actually to put Jesus off. Instead of living out what he says he wants he wavers. This is the “I want to follow just not right now” syndrome, “I mean I’m I really want to, it’s just that now is not a good time.” How many of us mouth commitment and instead move toward complacency? We treat our relationship with Jesus like we do the gym, we know we need it, we may even want it, so we say that we are going to go we just never do. It’s like that lifestyle change we need to make in our diet, we claim that we are going to start eating right but we want to wait till tomorrow so we can finish that piece of pie today. The truth is tomorrow never comes, no matter the excuse. It could be that you’re waiting until you are done with school but as soon as you are it gets replaced with after we have kids, which in turn ends up becoming when the kids graduate. It always feels like now is not a good time for God because there is always an excuse. We settle for being fans and shelve the committed follower for a more convenient time. Let me ask you are you pursuing Jesus or putting Him off? We have become professional procrastinators, even incorporating the practice of prayer to put off what we know is our real purpose. Funny how when asked if we want to serve in the church Christians will often say “I need to pray about that”, but are we as devoted to prayer when it comes to the other things we want to do? Did we diligently pray before we purchase all the possessions we have? But I know what you are thinking, this man has a legitimate reason, he wants to go bury his father, surely Jesus is being too tough. The truth is we don’t know the whole story, may be the man was saying when my parents die, then I will follow you, or when I get the inheritance, or when I know they won’t disapprove, then I will follow you. Let me ask you this is ever there a legitimate excuse for leaving the Lord? Is holding back from following Jesus ever acceptable? He didn’t say “turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me if it fits with what is going on in your life.” May be there is something in your life that seems to make it legitimate for you to linger and not follow, but Jesus says the time is now, not later. The longer you linger and put Jesus off the less like you are to ever follow. Lastly we find the third fan in verse 61, “Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” Jesus isn’t interested in half-hearted followers, because partnering with Jesus isn’t a part time calling.  How many Sunday Christians are trying to follow with one eye on the Savior and the other looking back over their shoulder wondering if they are missing out on something greater than the Messiah? Instead of comfort being the main issue the second and the third follower have a priority problem. So let me ask you another question to help determine and define your relationship with Jesus: Is Jesus one of many, or is He your one and only? The most important command is to love the Lord with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your mind, and ALL your strength. Jesus can’t be a partial priority, or just a passing passion. The cause of Christ will never be convenient. Now imagine that this week you walk into a restaurant and see your pastor snuggled up in a booth having a candle lit dinner with a woman who is not his wife. At first your shocked, but after you pick your mouth of the floor you confront and call him out, asking who the woman is and what he thinks he is doing. To which he replies rather calmly that he is on a date and doesn’t she look darling. Shocked at his response you respond by saying, but what about your wife, oh her well I still love her too but this isn’t our date night, that’s not until Friday so I can date who I want the rest of the week. I would hope that you would walk away disappointed and even disgusted at his idea of commitment. Now imagine you went and told his wife, do you suppose she would say, oh it’s no big deal I know he loves me even though it’s only on Fridays and his love is divided?  I seriously doubt it, my guess is she would be upset not understanding. The truth is we are not called to casually court Christ, we are called to commitment. Jesus doesn’t want our one-day a week affection, He wants our whole heart. So how obedient is your heart? Are you making excuses and exceptions or are you setting an example of obedient love? Are you faithfully following or is your love lacking and lingering?