FOLLOWING….

“The Shocking Truth About Following Jesus”

At the end of Luke 9, we find a story about three men who approached Jesus, eager to follow him. In surprising fashion, though, Jesus seems to have tried to talk them out of doing so.

The first guy said, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus responded, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” In other words, Jesus told this man that he could expect homelessness on the journey ahead. Followers of Christ are not guaranteed that even their basic need of shelter will be met.

The second man told Jesus that his father had just died. The man wanted to go back, bury his father, and then follow Jesus.

Jesus replied, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” I remember distinctly when my own dad died, and I cannot imagine hearing these words from Jesus.

A third man approached Jesus and told him that he wanted to follow him, but before he did, he wanted to say good-bye to his family.

Jesus wouldn’t let him. He told the man, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Plainly put, a relationship with Jesus requires total, superior, and exclusive devotion.

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of these would-be followers of Jesus in the first century. What if I were the potential disciple being told to become homeless? What if you were the one who was supposed to let someone else bury your dad? What if we were told that we couldn’t even say good-bye to our families?

This is where we come face to face with a dangerous reality. We do have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus. We do have to love him in a way that supersedes our closest relationships in this world. For that’s what it means to live out the biblical gospel rather than our cultural assumptions of what it means to follow Jesus.

Let us determine not to spend our lives on anything but radical abandonment to our Savior.

What should you cut out of your life, starting today, if Jesus is your overriding priority? 

God answers some Questions…

“Questions”

People who are gifted in the art of relationships are often people who ask some of the best questions. Here’s where God is a pro.

Take a look at some of God’s most profound questions:

Where are you? (Genesis 3:8-9)

Right at the beginning of the Bible, God demonstrated this aspect of His character through His relationship with Adam and Eve—a trusting, transparent, daily relationship.

In Genesis 3, we read about Adam and Eve choosing to turn from God and live life apart from Him. When the relationship was broken, God came looking for Adam and Eve. He didn’t come to punish or shame them but to restore the relationship.

When you can sense God stirring in your life, you, too, are a person He’s seeking out, so that you might be able to know Him and live in a relationship with Him.

What do you want? (John 1:35-39)

In John 1, we see Jesus asking some curious men a question like God’s question. He asked them, “What do you want?” (John 1:38).

The men avoided the question and changed the subject, asking Jesus, “Where are you staying?” Rather than give them an actual address, He answered them, “Come … and see” (John 1:39). Rather than giving an answer, He gives an invitation.

Often, many us of are usually saying to God, “I want something from You,” while God is saying to us, “I want to be with you.”

Who do you say I am? (Matthew 16:13-15)

This is where Christianity begins. Your answer to that question is your start here, because it’s where you get clear about what you think of Jesus. Fortunately, what Jesus says about Himself is recorded in the Bible, including John 10:36, John 11:25, John 10:11, and John 8:58.

These are just some of Jesus’s statements—how He would answer the question about His identity. But Jesus doesn’t stop; He makes it even more personal.

Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26)

Jesus always makes things personal. He said to His disciples, “But what about you—who do you say I am?” and He said to Martha in John 11:25-26, “Do you believe this?”

Jesus asks these same questions to us, too, and answering these questions is a part of being in a relationship with God, of finding God and finding the truth. And finding the truth starts with Jesus Christ.

 

“Rules v. Relationship”

If you do a quick search for a definition of Christianity, you are likely to find something about “following the teachings of Jesus.” And that’s true—Christianity is about following Jesus’s teachings. The problem is most people turn the idea of “following Jesus” into “following rules”—and that’s not the point.

The story of the Bible makes it clear that the point of knowing Jesus is for a relationship, not rules. As you begin to explore what God tells us about Himself through the Bible, you are going to find that being in a loving, committed relationship with Him is the main thing.

So saying that the main idea of Christianity is to follow teaching points is like saying that the main idea of marriage is to share your household bills. Not exactly what we hope for in a great love story!

This perspective of rules versus relationship is a great divide that distinguishes Christianity from other religions. Where most religions teach that the way to “be good” is through required practices and rigid beliefs, Christianity starts from a different place.

From the earliest times, Jesus’s followers weren’t known for following rules or “being good.” The thing that stuck out—the thing that was worth mentioning—was the mere reality that they had “been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Not that they acknowledged Jesus, not that they followed the behavioral system of Jesus, but that they were “with” Him.

Being with Jesus is what transformed these people from what the Bible calls “unschooled, ordinary men” into courageous, bold leaders. And that’s the same reality we are offered when Jesus invites us into a relationship: to “be with Him.”

What will it take?

Will you do whatever it takes?

Leadership requires strength, dedication and sacrifice. Moses quickly saw that he played a key role in the battle that required he hold his hands in the air. You should try it and see how many hours you can do it without growing weary. Well, Moses was weary as well, but the cost was too great to give in to fatigue, so Aaron and Hur stepped up to do whatever it took to keep Moses’ arms upraised.

When you see your supervisor or church leader growing weary, do you quickly move to their side to help them or do you stand back and complain about their inability to do a good job? Though it may not be apparent, your action or inaction may be key to the success or failure of the endeavor.

Some things to ponderナ?

1. Will you humble yourself to stand beside a leader to help them when they become weary?

2. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to help them?

HELP???

Who needs help?

King David understood the importance of helping others. In this case, he wanted to help a member of the former king’s family if any were left alive.

How about you? Do you know of anyone who could use your long-term help? Maybe an elderly person could use your help with chores around the house or yard work. You may know of a teacher who could use your help in the classroom. Look around. You will find them.

Some things to ponderナ?

1. Do you shy away from helping people who are handicapped, chronically ill or elderly? Why?

2. Will you commit to begin helping someone whom you know so their load will be lightened?

What shall you eat?

Are you hungry?

The disciples had fished all night and caught no fish. At sunrise, they saw a man on the shore who called out to them about their success. Then he suggested they try fishing on the other side of the boat, after which they hauled in a great catch (vv 4-6). Knowing they were hungry he offered to feed them.

Have you ever worked and labored over a task only to accomplish nothing? It probably felt good when you were called to come inside for supper and you could leave your task behind for a while; weary souls need time to refresh.

Some things to ponderナ?

1. When you see someone who is weary are you willing to help them refresh?

2. Try this – the next time an opportunity arises to encourage someone who is weary, do it.

MONEY??

What about giving money? ?

Money. Most of us don’t like to talk about it, especially when we know that someone else needs or wants it. In fact, sometimes it seems like everyone has their hand out wanting a donation for some “worthy cause.”

The truth is that money is nothing more than a tool to be used to accomplish things. Hoarding it does no good and wasting it does no good. However, investing money in the right places does lots of good.

Some things to ponder:

1. What is money to you (i.e., success, wealth, status, etc.)? ?

2. How can you overcome your reluctance to invest in the right people or causes?