Something has been bugging about the Church me for sometime and I finally have it figured out I think. It’s that Jesus has been trivialized from the Son of God who offers believers eternal life and lives within them through His Spirit to reach others to bring them also into the fold and has become just another lifestyle choice.
Harsh words, I know, but somebody’s got to say it. But, what does the Bible say?
[The Cost of Following Jesus]
Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
(Matthew 8:18-22 ESV)
Jesus was more harsh. The scribe made a bold claim and Jesus called him on his ignorance. “Following me is not what you think it’s like. I don’t even know where I will be sleeping tonight.” The scribe, it seems, had been sucked in by the hype. Jesus had been performing miracles and teaching enormous crowds. He was like a rock star! “I want to be like you!” proclaimed the scribe. “I’m homeless,” Jesus informed him. It is left to the reader to decide the scribe’s reaction. I think he was one of the many who abandoned Jesus. The lifestyle of this inspiring teacher–the crowds, the adulation, the miracles–appealed to this scripture geek. But following the real Jesus into the unknown? Not so much.
The other disciple made what seems to be a perfectly reasonable stipulation for following Jesus. “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus tells him that he has to have his priorities straight. “Follow me…..” Nothing else really matters at all. His father was dead. Whatever is necessary for him will be done, but here was this guy standing before God in the flesh with this chance in a life time (literally) and he’s worried about his dead father? This makes me think that he too was in it for the wrong reasons as well.
It gets worse. Read this:
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
(Luke 14:25-26 ESV)
It’s the same message. Following Jesus is not a lifestyle choice nor is it even a way of life. It’s a state of being. But it’s the life style that gets taught and preached. A believer does not smoke or drink or cuss or chew. Believers don’t gamble or watch R rated movies or worse. They go to church on Sunday and pay their tithes. They are decent, law-abiding, heterosexual teetotalers. On a good day the teacher will throw in an appeal for the congregation to get “plugged into” a ministry of the church. I’ve been there too. Done that. Lived that lifestyle. I’m not saying that I still don’t. Nor am I saying that those are not good lifestyle choices. As general rules to live by, a person could do a lot worse. What I am saying that that’s as far as any of that goes. None of it really matters as far as Jesus is concerned. Not if we are honest with ourselves and realize that no matter what we do to keep up outward appearances, we remain sinners saved by grace and grace alone. What did John the Baptist say of the Pharisees? Unfortunately, many believers are drawn to this lifestyle and are taught to believe by removing such “worldly trappings” they come closer to God. But, all this just makes up a lifestyle; a way of life. It’s all trivial and so it all trivializes Jesus.
After all, does Jesus truly want believers to “hate” their parents and their spouses and children? No. After all, He loves them even more than we do. The thing is that Jesus needs to be all we think about and the impetus of every thought word and deed. We need to love Him first and foremost, with all out heart mind and strength. Nothing and no one else matters. It’s “as if” we don’t care about even our families even though we love them very much. We then follow Jesus with our entire being. Like I said, it’s a state of being not a lifestyle choice. If we can commit to this, then the rest will take care of itself. And nothing in such a believer’s life will be trivial.