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 disciples.
And whoever does not carry their cross and follower me cannot be my disciples.
In the same way, those of you who do not give up EVERYTHING you have cannot be my disciples.
-Luke 14:26-27, 33 (NIV), emphasis added
This will be heart to write and yet I know that if I don’t write it there will be people I know, people I love, that will go to hell.
We been told a lie about what it means to be Christ followers. And worse than that, we lead ourselves further into these lies. We don’t takes God’s word and read it for ourselves. We allow our pastors and elders to interpret the bible for us and we get lead astray. (See What Did He Say?)
Our values and aspirations are unbiblical. We are allowing earthly possessions, fear, and people we love to cloud what Christ has told us about being His disciple.
None of the things Jesus said in Luke 14 are easy to accept. We must hate those we love, be willing to die for Him, and give up EVERYTHING to follow Jesus. This doesn’t just include earthly possessions, but I will cover that in another post.
I don’t see American “Christians” even willing to give up what they have to follow Jesus.
In Asia, believers walk miles to get to church, where they have to be careful to enter at different times to avoid attracting attention. The sit in a small, crowded room, fearing for their very lives, all to come closer to this God we claim to serve. They risk it all, family, friends, even their lives, to spend hours learning about what Jesus did for us. And we complain about having to get up early or drive to church. We complain about the people we don’t like at church. They struggle to learn about God while we struggle to stay awake in church. Their families are threatened, while we gossip about other church attendees. They cry out thanks to God for loving them and beg Him for His mercy, while we ask God to let us win the lottery or for more money or a bigger house or or or….
They risk everything to follow Christ, while we risk Christ for everything.
As they were going along the road, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you any place you go.”
Jesus said to them, “The foxes have holes to live in, and the birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to rest his head.”
Jesus said to another man, “Follow me!”
But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
But Jesus said to him, “Let the people who are dead bury their own dead. You must go and tell about the kingdom of God.”
Another man said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to my family.”
Jesus said, “Anyone who begins to plow a field but keeps looking back is of no use in the kingdom of God.“
-Luke 9:57-62 (NCV), emphasis added.
Jesus sure has a funny way of trying to gather followers. It seems he scares off three people who say they are willing to follow Him.
To the first: following Jesus means you could end up homeless. We are not guaranteed shelter.
To the second: there are more important things than burying your dead loved ones. This goes hand-in-hand with Luke 14. We must love Jesus so much that it seems we hate those on earth. If God called you to go help followers in a foreign land and two days before your flight your mother passes, would you stay to bury her or go do God’s work?
To the third: don’t look back. Following Jesus demands our all; complete devotion. Nothing else can come first and we can’t look back.
Why then have we been taught that believing in Jesus and following Him is rainbows and butterflies? Jesus Himself practically denied people from following Him. I was told admit your a sinner; believe Jesus is God’s son, died, rose again on the third day; confess that Jesus is your Lord and Savior; say a quick prayer and presto you’re saved. Jesus told these guys you could be homeless, you have more important thing then burying your loves ones, and you must be 100%, no turning back, devoted to Him! Not as easy as we are told it is. In Luke 14 He tells them to hate those you love, carry your cross, and give up EVERYTHING you have! He tells a wealthy man in Mark 10:21 that in order to follow Jesus, he must “Go and sell everything [he has], and give the money to the poor, and [he] will have treasure in heaven.”
Jesus called us to deny ourselves, but we are being taught that being a Christian is comfortable and easy. “Pray and you’ll be saved. That’s all you have to do to go to heaven. God will keep you safe and provide all the things you need to have a large home and three cars and more stuff than you can imagine” No! We must crucify ourselves, leave the safety of our homes and country, sell all we have to help the poor! Look at the disciples; almost all 12 of them died because they followed Jesus and went out teaching others about Him.
We are teaching others that following Jesus is simple and Jesus wants you to have nice things and Jesus will keep you safe and comfortable when Jesus taught that following Him would be the hardest thing we’d ever do and it would be dangerous (His disciples were tortured and jailed and killed for following Him and Jesus was crucified) and we might not have a place to call home.
By attempting to transform the image of who Jesus is and what he wants into our own ideals are we not molding Him to our image?! We are supposed to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and mold ourselves into HIS image.
So I ask you: Do you truly believe that Jesus is worth abandoning EVERYTHING for? Do you believe He will fulfill you even if you have nothing on this earth? Will you obey all He asks of you and follow Him wherever he leads you?
These are not yes or no questions. You have to take action to answer them. You have to commit to believe whatever Jesus tells you and then you have to obey Him. What is God telling you to do? What are you going to do about it?