Luke 14: 25-34: 25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “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. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
Is Jesus really asking us to hate our families? I think we all know the answer to that question is “no.” What Jesus is saying is that he wants us to love Him more than anything and anyone. He wants us to give up everything and follow Him.
“That doesn’t seem very seeker sensitive at all. You would think it would read:
A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “What a crowd! I want everyone to go invite one friend and come back tonight for a carnival. We’ll have live music. All the loaves and fish you can eat. We’ll even have a ‘water to wine’ booth. I may even get in the dunk booth. And whoever invites the most friends gets one free miracle. Let’s pack this hillside out!” (Not a Fan p. 56)
Now I know Kyle’s quote pokes a little fun at the church, but you have to admit it is a little funny. Come on, we’ve all been there, maybe even said almost those very words. After all, churches have to find new and creative ways to bring them in, right? I believe the whole point (at least it is how I see it) is that churches shouldn’t have to come up with new and exciting ways to bring people to church; people should come to church to be with Jesus and should not require some gimmick to get them there. It is actually pretty sad if you think about it.
Furthermore, my flesh would urge pastors not to lead off their sermons with this Scripture, as it might scare some people off. After all, not everyone is called to be a disciple. Aren’t disciples for those really “religious: people, pastors, or those studying ministry? It doesn’t apply to everyone does it?
Kyle argues that Jesus addressed his message to the “large crowd”, it does not specify specific groups of people. He was talking to the lot of the people, whoever wants to follow me, must give up everything and everyone, including their own lives. The word disciple literally means to be a learner or follower. We are all called to learners and followers of Jesus Christ; therefore we are called to be disciples; there go, we are all called to give up everything and everyone. Jesus is to be our one and only.
In Not a Fan, Kyle give us some questions to help us determine where we stand.
1. For what do you sacrifice your money?
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. What you spend your time and money on often reveals the true desire of your heart and shows who or what you are truly following….In Matthew 6:4 Jesus said ‘No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.’ …..Your bank account may very well offer the best evidence as the whether you are a fan or follower (what is your largest check?). (p.60-61)
2. When you’re hurt, where do you go for comfort?
“When you experience the pain of this life where do your turn? Maybe it’s to a parent or spouse. Maybe it is to the refrigerator. Isn’t that why they call it comfort food? Do you bury yourself in work? All these things have the potential to compete with Jesus for our devotion and affection. There is nothing wrong with finding comfort from family and friend; that is part of God’s design. But the question is, ‘Do they take the place of Jesus?’” (p. 61)
3. What disappoints or frustrates you the most?
“When we feel overwhelmed with disappointment it often reveals something that has become too important. It may be something as significant as a loss of a job, or something as insignificant as a loss of a ball game. When we find that those things have the power to determine who we are and what kind of day we have, it very well may be evidence that something is more important than it should be. Of course some level of disappointment and frustration can be natural. But if you find that your are excessively disappointed or over-frustrated it’s an indication of what might be competing for affection that is to be Christ’s alone.” (p. 62)
4. What is it that really gets you excited?
“Recently I was watching a college football game on TV when my 12-year-old daughter came in and said, ‘I’ve never see you so excited.’ She has seen be baptize new believers. She saw my reaction to the birth of her baby brother. She has seen me take her out for many daddy/daughter dates. But she has never seen me as excited than watching a college football game. Ouch.
Like the things that disappoint us, the things that excite us can also point to something or someone this is in competition with Jesus.” (p. 63)
A lot of people claim to be Christians, but very few of those “Christians” are true followers of Jesus Christ. I would venture to say that a lot, probably even a majority of them just do not know any better as too many preachers and teachers are caught up in trying to “sell” Jesus, they can no longer effectively teach.
“Jesus makes no apologies for his strong words. He wants people to be clear about what they are signing for.
Many fans responded to a gospel message that was designed to sound as easy and as appealing as possible. So like the new homeowner who signed on the dotted line to buy the house with no money down and interest-only payments for a year, they find themselves a little shocked to discover the terms Jesus actually laid out. But this wasn’t the fine print of his message. It was the main point.
John Oros was a church leader in Romania during the communist era. When he spoke at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, he talked about what that was like:
‘During communism, many of us preached…and people came at the end of service, and they said, ‘I have decided to become a Christian.’ We told them, ‘It is good that you want to become a Christian, but we would like to tell you there is a price to be paid. Why don’t you reconsider what you want to do, because many things can happen to you. You can lose, and you can lose big.’
John said that a high percentage of them chose to take part in a three-month class…..
At the end of this period, many participants declared their desire to be baptized. Typically, I would respond, ‘It’s really nice you want to become a Christian, but when you give your testimony, there will be informers here who will jot down your name. Tomorrow the problems will start. Count the cost. Christianity is not easy. It’s not cheap. You can be demoted. You can lose your job. You can lose your friends. You can lose your neighbors. You can lose your kids. You can lose even your own life.’
He wanted the people to get to the place where following Jesus was so important to them, that if they lost everything it would still be worth it.” (pp.65-66)
In America, it is a little different for us. We don’t have much persecution. Our faith will most likely not cost our physical life (at least not yet). But that does not mean there will not be a price to be paid. I can tell you that since I became a true follower and not just a fan, I have paid some costs. I have lost friends. Some family members think I’m crazy and take this “Jesus thing” too seriously. My pride and reputation has taken major hits. In all honesty, in the grand scheme of things my costs have been minimal, but they still hurt. However, the relationship I have with my Jesus, makes it all worth it and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world.
The question I have for you today is: If following Jesus cost you everything today, would it still be worth it?
Be blessed and be a blessing,