Just when you may have thought I’d forgotten about this series……..
In Chapter 9, Mr. Idleman has us take a look at Luke 9:23:
Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Now, when I read this passage, I normally focus on the “take up his cross” part of the scripture; however, here, Mr. Idleman would like us to take a closer look at “come after Me” portion.
“Come after” is often a text used in romantic relationships. When you “come after” someone, you chase them; you pursue them; you seek them. Jesus wants us to pursue Him with the same passion and enthusiasm as we pursue someone we love or want to love.
Think about it a moment. What crazy things have you done for love? How did you win your current love?
Now, tell me, what crazy things have you done in the pursuit of Christ?
Now, not all of us are terrible romantics and don’t have a lot of “crazy” stories, but I’m betting you put a lot of time and effort into pursuing your romantic love. Why? Well, because building a romantic relationship takes time and effort. The same goes for our relationships with Christ.
“Followers should have some come after Jesus stories that make people say, ‘That’s crazy.’ “
On the contrary, most fans don’t understand this concept. Following Jesus has been about going to church whenever it is convenient and dropping a few bucks in the offering plate. Fans can’t understand the need or want to do or have anything more.
But as Mr. Ideman points out, that is not the kind of relationship Jesus wants.
In the parable of “The Pearl of Great Price” found in Matthew 13 Jesus illustrates the relationship he desires:
Matthew 13:44- The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
“He is desperate to buy that field so the treasure will be his. That evening he liquidated his assets. He sells everything-his home, oxen, cart. Friends and family begin to talk. They think he’s lost his mind. It just doesn’t make sense. But the truth is, this is the best investment he could ever make.” (P. 133)
When we find Jesus, with great joy,we are to give up everything to pursue Him. We are to do this because we know it will be worth it in the end. Our lives will be so much better following Jesus than following the world.
Fans, those who are walking on the fence, would rather play it safe and not get carried away. It is kind of like cohabitation (living with a boyfriend/girlfriend), in which you try to reap the benefits without the commitment. You want the relationship, but you don’t want to miss out. What if something better comes along? You want the fun, not the responsibilities that come with a commitment.
It is not that we don’t want a relationship with Jesus; we do. We just don’t want it to cost us very much.” (P. 134)
Jesus’ words of “come after” are an invitation, not a command. The choice is ours. Actually, it is more accurate to say we have the choice each and every day to pick up our cross and follow Him. A onetime decision to follow Christ with out action to back it up is not enough to build the kind of relationship Christ is seeking.
Just as our romantic relationships take work, so do our relationships with God. Our relationship with God can grow stale, boring, etc. if not tended to. Many marriage counselors advise couples who are struggling to go back and do what they first did to pursue one another in the beginning of their relationship. The same can be said if you have “lost that lovin’ feeling,” with God. Go back and do what you did when you first fell in love with Christ.
Don’t think this is necessary? Remember the warning given in Revelation 2:4-5:
I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do things you did at first. If you do not repent I will come to you and remove your lamps tan from its place.
While I would love to say that I’m always a follower of Jesus Christ, the truth is sometimes my life looks more like a life of a fan. I thank God for books like this and writers who are willing to put cold, hard truths out there. The point of this chapter, and book as a whole, is to not beat up fans, or poke fun, but rather open our eyes to our shortcomings and lead us to repentance.
Where do you find yourself today? Is your walk looking more like a follower or more like a fan?