I’ve been doing a great deal of contemplating over the past week as I dove into deeper study of our latest series at church on following Jesus. It’s easy to say that we are going to follow Jesus. That we will turn to Him in our lives. How many of us, however, ever stop and think about the cost of following Jesus. For some time, I certainly didn’t think about this. However, to really turn to Jesus and to really become a sold out follower of Christ comes with a heavy cost. It’s life changing. The moment you decide that you are all in, your life is completely changed forever.
To truly follow Jesus requires us to leave where we were and never look back. In Luke 9, starting at verse 57, it states:
“As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”59And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” 60But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”61Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” 62But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
For the first man, Jesus is giving him a warning, almost. That he has no place to sleep. No home. It’s not going to be an easy road. The next man wants to first go bury his father and the third man wants to say good-bye to family and friends.
At first it is easy to think. What’s wrong with going to bury your father first or to go back to tell people good-bye. The point is this. Once you make the decision that you will follow Jesus, you cannot go back. You cannot look back. First, why would you even want to. Jesus is out to teach us what has been told to us from the very beginning. To have no other gods before our God. He is to come first above all things. He is out to dethrone all those things in our lives that we are so easy to elevate to a position ahead of God. This includes our own families and our friends. Jesus + Nothing = Everything. His desire is that we return to Him and that we make Him first in our hearts.
This is not easy for us to do. There are always things in this life that are competing for our hearts and desires. It could be the keeping up with the Jones to give your family the best of everything, that next job promotion, that new car, that boat, that lady you saw at the gym, that porn site, that next drink, that next fix. It could be anything. That’s just the surface. No matter where we are in our faith, we are always going to be tempted by the enemy as those things in this world, those thorns in our flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7), continue to compete for our hearts and try to come in ahead of Jesus in our lives. To true follow Jesus, we need to leave those things behind. Shed the old man and put on our new nature (Ephesians 4:24)
This past Sunday, our student ministry pastor talked about being a fan or a follower of Jesus. Being someone that just wants to admire him or someone that is all into following where He leads. Many are just fans. Jesus knew this as it shows in Luke 14:26. He put tested their willingness to follow him by telling the crowd that, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.“
That sounds hard doesn’t. I must hate my family, including my wife and children? No, not hate them, but as the NLT says, we must hate everyone by comparison to loving Jesus and following Him. He must not be diminished below anyone or anything in order to follow Him as a true disciple of Jesus. This is the challenge that we all must make to ourselves as we evaluate our lives and our faith. What in our lives do we elevate above Jesus. What are those idols that have taken precedence over following Jesus.
I have had to reassess all of this in my life. How I lived as a lone ranger, where I put my priorities in life, and overall how I lived. I allowed Jesus to do a complete work-over of my heart to where I know now that He has to come first over everything. I have made the decision to follow Him unconditionally – NO MATTER THE COST! Even it costs my life or costs me friendships and relationships, I will follow Him. That invitation is open to everyone willing. Follow Jesus!
God over everything!
“To be converted to faith in Jesus Christ is to return to the worship of the true God, and to dethrone all rivals to his authority.” – Graham Kendrick