I May Lose Everyone I Love Over This – Part 3

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?

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I May Lose Everyone I Love Over This – Part 2

“The Son of Man will come again in his great glory, with all his angels. He will be King and sit on his great throne. All the nations of the world will be gathered before him, and he will separate them into two groups as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 

The Son of Man will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to the people on his right, ‘Come, my Father has given you his blessing. Receive the kingdom God has prepared for you since the world was made. 

 

I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you invited me into your house. I was without clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ 

 

“Then the good people will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you alone and away from home and invite you into our house? When did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and care for you?’ 

 

“Then the King will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me.’ 

 

“Then the King will say to those on his left, ‘Go away from me. You will be punished. Go into the fire that burns forever that was prepared for the devil and his angels. I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you did not invite me into your house. I was without clothes, and you gave me nothing to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 

 

“Then those people will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or alone and away from home or without clothes or sick or in prison? When did we see these things and not help you?’ 

 

“Then the King will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, anything you refused to do for even the least of my people here, you refused to do for me.’ 

 

“These people will go off to be punished forever, but the good people will go to live forever.” 

 

-Matthew‬ ‭25‬:‭31-46‬ (NCV), emphasis added

 

I can see this scene now. I am standing in the back observing. On the right I see a few people I know and love. He tells them “Come, my Father has given you his blessing. Receive the kingdom God has prepared for you since the world was made.” I smile happy to know that they will be in heaven.

 

I look to the left and my heart falls. There are many more people here that I know and love. People I thought for sure would be on the right. Those who claimed to be saved and love God. Those who I didn’t think I needed to worry about. And some I was unsure of. Some I knew I should have pushed the issue. “Go away from me. You will be punished. Go into the fire that burns forever that was prepared for the devil and his angels.”

 

How many of us will be on the left? How many of us pass by widows in need or the homeless just wanting a warm meal? How many of us give to those “starving kids in Africa”? Offer our homes to weary travelers or help those who are in prison because of their faith? Who among us is helping the sick or clothing others? I know I need to be better about helping the least of these!

 

I am not saying every homeless person that asks you for money is supposed to get it. This is where we need to be listening to God. He will guide us and tell us who He wants us to help.  We should pray every time the opportunity arises.  We should be praying that God would guide us in these situations.  And when God says give we should give whether it is our time, homes, or even money. And then we should not be hateful or say negative things about those we have given to.  Do not make comments about “drug or alcohol money” or about how they should have tried harder.  Once that money leaves your hands or that meal is given or your time is gone it’s not up to you what happens next.  That is all between them and God.

 

The worst part is that since we live in America it is easy to find groups that help the homeless, widows, orphans, and those in need abroad and in this country. We can support them with a click of a mouse. But we are too greedy and too determined to have the “American Dream” that we won’t help those in need.  Some of these simple tasks require no monetary involvement at all. It costs us nothing to allow someone to sleep on our couch or to visit a brother in prison because of his faith. But not doing these things will cost us EVERYTHING!

 

It’s not just individuals! It is whole churches as well! Church itself has a so called “American Dream”; large buildings, thousands of members, bowling allies, basketball teams! What about the least of these?!

 

Jesus ministered on the streets and on hilltops and occasionally in other churches. He didn’t build a multi million dollar building or try as he might to build a mega church.  His time went to helping the lost and homeless, widows and orphans. He traveled to minister to those in need. He didn’t sit in a large build waiting for the people to come to Him. He went to them.

 

I will get more into the “American Dream” in part three. For now I want anyone claiming to be a Christ follower to reread Matthew 25:31-46. We are called here to feed the hungry, give the thirsty something to drink, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit those in prison, and give a bed to those far from home.

 

When you stand before The Son of Man will you hear “Come, my Father has given you his blessing. Receive the kingdom God has prepared for you since the world was made” or will Jesus say to you “Go away from me. You will be punished. Go into the fire that burns forever that was prepared for the devil and his angels”?

 

Lord,

 

Give us the opportunity to live as Christ has called us to live in Matthew 25:31-46. Open the door for us. Guide us and give us the wisdom to know which situations you wants us to be involved in. Open us to serving you, our Lord and Savior, by serving the least of these.

 

Amen

I May Lose Everyone I Love Over This – Part 1

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 

-Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭13-14‬ (NIV) emphasis added

I used to struggle with this verse. All my days as a young child and even in the past few years as I have grown as an adult I didn’t understand what Jesus meant in these two simple verses. I could see multitudes of people around me claiming to know God and to believe in Jesus. I mean, I live in the Bible Belt, grew up in church, have been to countless conferences, and seen salvation after salvation. I kept thinking that the “narrow road” Jesus spoke of was just “narrower” than the broad road to destruction.

How wrong I was!

Jesus said exactly what He meant, as I have learned He always says what He means. I was just to afraid to see that He was speaking the truth;

“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

I was too afraid to admit to myself that the people I love; family, friends, coworker, even fellow church attenders are going to hell! 

This is where those same people I mentioned might not stay with me. I knew when I started writing this I might lose those very people I love.  Please do not think I am standing on a pedestal looking down on everyone around me.

God has recently brought me to my knees, flat on my face, tears pour from within me as He showed me how wrong I have been about the so called “Christian” life I have been living.

It began a few years ago when we helped start a small town church. I was 21, young, and as they say in the south “On fire for God”. (I see now I was just more vocal about God than most 21 year olds and NO where near on fire). We met one Sunday in our new building as usually. We ate breakfast and fellowshipped as normal, but this Sunday was about to be the beginning of a long and overdue wake up call for me.

I told you I had been in church my who life; I’ve helped with the children’s ministry, been a youth leader, and even taught a class on sharing your faith. I thought that everything I needed to learn about the bible my pastors would teach me. That’s why that Sunday I got a rude awakening.

As the service started, Stewie stood before the crowd and told us we were going to partake in the Lord’s Supper. I knew this was the plan since I ran screens for our small gatherings. No big deal I had taken part in a few of these. Take the bread, take the grape juice (in the South it’s grape juice). No big deal.

Stewie said something that day that now haunts me:

Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup you are telling others about the Lord’s death until he comes.

So a person who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in a way that is not worthy of it will be guilty of sinning against the body and the blood of the Lord. Look into your own hearts before you eat the bread and drink the cup, because all who eat the bread and drink the cup without recognizing the body eat and drink judgment against themselves.

That is why many in your group are sick and weak, and some of you have died. 

-1 Corinthians‬ ‭11‬:‭26-30‬ (NCV), emphasis added

There is a physical consequence to not seriously looking within ourselves before partaking and asking God to forgive us. If we do not take this covenant seriously we could become sick and even die. It is not to be taken lightly.

After he read this he said something I have never heard from a pastor before: “If you are not right with God, if you have not asked for forgiveness of your sins, if you are not going to take this seriously, I urge you to not take part.” And that day several refused to partake!

Many pastors today are not urging their congregation to take this seriously, even though the consequences could be death!

As I said before this was only the beginning of my journey to the realization that those around me claiming to be true followers of Christ might actually be going to hell.

For now I will leave you in suspense. In part 2 of I May Lose Everyone I Love Over This! I will use Matthew 25 to explain how I first came to realize that the path is truely narrow.

Lord,

God will speak to us. Show us your great and mighty power.  Guide us and make our paths clear. Give us the knowledge and wisdom to see and hear you. And open our hearts and minds to you and change our lives.