This is an abbreviated transcript from the sermon I preached on November 25th. I am going to divide this into two posts. It turns out it was the last sermon preached in the church sanctuary before it was destroyed by fire that week.
How easy is it to follow Jesus? Does it cost anything? Life as a follower of Jesus Christ involves a lot more than simply signing on the dotted line, or remembering the lines in a song. It means staying true to Him, even when everything else seems to be collapsing. It means trusting Him even when you feel like you have lost traction in life.
When I was in college I drove school bus in Minnesota. There was one stop I would make at the bottom of a hill before I would then turn the corner and head up this steep incline. This was a challenge for my bus when it wasn’t slippery, but add a little snow and it was exciting. One morning it was snowing. The moment I turned the corner, I knew I was not going to make it. There was maybe an inch of snow on the road, on top of a little bit of packed down snow. I got half way up and stopped. I was in a tricky spot because I could not go forward, but I could also not back down this hill because it was too slippery and there was a fairly busy road at the bottom. I literally lost traction while knowing I needed to get over that hill
That seems to be the experience many people have when it comes to following Christ. At some point in life it makes perfect sense to follow Jesus, so you commit to Him. Then there are things that come up, life happens and the direction gets confusing, or the traction gets lost. Things are going along well and then there is a set back and there you sit. Eventually, traction is gained again and you are back moving again, just in time for something else to get in the way again. Going back is costly and dangerous, but going forward seems impossible. What do we do? Jesus has two words for us: “Follow me”
Jesus had plenty of people following him around as he ministered. There were people who were excited to see him heal people, people who were hoping to be healed, people who were curious, and people who were watching his every move hoping he would fail. To be sure there are many reasons people decide to follow Jesus. But, what does it mean to truly follow Jesus, despite anything else in your life?
This is the question asked in Luke 9:57-62. You see there were many willing participants until they saw the cost. A true follower is someone who is willing to pay what it costs to follow Him.
A True Follower of Christ is Committed
There was a man who approached Jesus here and was enthusiastic about following Him. The question is: why? What is this man’s angle? What is he after? Why is he so willing to throw himself at Jesus and declare that he will follow him anywhere?
Jesus recognizes this also. I mean, sure, the up front ministry of Jesus might have looked appealing and exciting. People were being healed and freed from demons. Things were happening! But, a decision to follow wherever meant that if he decided to follow Jesus, he would be joining the ranks of the disposed. This is what Rich Mullins, musician, once wrote about when he said, “the fate of the whole world rests on the shoulders of a homeless man.”
It became a question of commitment. Commitment is something that was highlighted for me with the birth of every one of my children. If I go back to 2004, when my first child was born, I can remember the night he as born and the feelings of joy and terror that I felt. I looked at this baby and realized that I did not know him at all and yet I was supposed to care for him. I knew in my heart that I would do things to protect and care for my children that I would not be as willing to do for other people. Each new child came with new challenges and new juggling abilities, but always the commitment was always there. If it is the choice between their care over my own, they will get what they need because that is the commitment I have made to them and to God. This is costly. It means not being able to do certain things. It means not having money. It means extra trips to the doctor, school functions, night-time feedings, bad dreams, and embarrassing moments. It means that the only sleep I get is on youth retreats. It means I need to give of myself in inconvenient ways. But, I am in.
With this man it is a question of commitment. Is he wiling to really follow Jesus Christ anywhere, knowing that anywhere might not be a comfortable place? What about if he asks him to do something that costs him all his life savings? What if he asks him to go to a part of the world where it is dangerous to be a follower of Jesus? Are you still willing?
Enthusiasm is great, but it is when enthusiasm meets reality and there is a resounding “yes” I Am in, that we get committed followers of Christ.
This will be continued tomorrow. The question to ponder for now is: “Are you committed to following Jesus, no matter where that takes you?”