Christianity Today recently published an article about following Jesus, similar to the one by Relevant Magazine that we blogged on a few weeks back.
It poses the question, “How do we go about following Jesus when he tells us, “No.”? (Boy, I bet that question NEVER comes up in seminary!) It doesn’t fit our paradigm that Jesus would ever turn someone away sad. Send them home. Send them packing. But He did and He does, if he is the real Jesus that you are following and not one of a hundred imaginary Jesuses you may have running around inside your head.
We know about the rich young ruler, all fired up to follow Jesus, but whom Jesus discouraged and basically turned away.
We know about the man Jesus healed/cast demons out of in Luke 8.
We know He also told His disciples that they couldn’t follow Him (when they wanted to die for him, and go out in a blaze of glory, battling the Romans and those in bed with them). He also told them they had to wait, later, after He arose, rather than going out in their own strength and power versus empowered by the Holy Spirit.
As this year begins, I can’t think of a better spiritual exercise than to contemplate if you are either holding back from Jesus, at the fringes, reluctant to step out, to go overseas, due to lack of trust or maybe already having your own life plans all mapped out,
if you are ready to go (and happy to do so), maybe running from something?
What type are you?
Neither “type” above fits God’s model of discipleship. Obedience is what God wants, not sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22). A little mercy, justice, and humility would be nice too (Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:8).
- A dysfunctional family
- Stage-of-life responsibilities
- Personal heartaches
- Relational losses
- Unfulfilled aspirations
- Struggling marriages
- An uninspired workplace
Or maybe the places you’d like to avoid are within you? That kind of baggage goes with you no matter how much you have to pay the airlines.
Maybe there is family that needs mending. Maybe a broken love relationship. Sometimes the best way to see God’s power is in those weak moments. Those places of brokenness and vulnerability. Trusting God in the small things at home, which really end up being “tip-of-the-iceberg” BIG things that God ends up doing.
DID YOU KNOW…
Jesus returned to Nazareth, and to Capernaum, and even to Jerusalem – Places where he was accused of being an illegitimate son, those who doubted his calling, to family that thought he was crazy, to brothers that knew better than he did, to those who hated him and wanted him dead. So He went before us. There is a precedent. To live courageously. Faithfully. Going back to address the stuff that needed closure.
Then, and only then, as He listened to the Spirit’s voice, did He confidently go to Jerusalem to fulfill all that God had still left for Him to do. May we go and do, likewise.
The original article (by Jeff Strong) that inspired this post is at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/january-web-only/when-jesus-says-dont-follow-me.html
And some of his podcasts/sermons can be found here: http://grindstonechurch.com/podcast.php?pageID=5
If you wonder what I’m talking about in saying “Imaginary Jesuses” above, realize that there are as many “Jesuses” as there are people. We all make up a version of Jesus that agrees with us (mostly) and loves to do the stuff we like to do, play Minecraft, watch movies, friend on Facebook, stir up the lazy, lackadaisical church with, gossip about self-righteous people with, go to Toby Mack or Lacrae concerts with,…Matt Mikalatos (Amazon) does a pretty decent job of explaining all this is a strange, fast-paced book that’s part Fight Club, part The Tick comic book by Ben Edlund, with a dash of Matrix II tossed in so it doesn’t drag near the end.
Order his book from Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Imaginary-Jesus-Spiritual-Adventures-Searching/dp/1414364733/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 (Don’t worry, we don’t make anything off this product placement.)
Feel free to write us or comment if this post helped you in any way.