God’s People, part 212: Eager Follower

Read Luke 9:57-58

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?”  (Luke 14:28, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Creation_Candle_LightPart 212: Eager Follower. It is so easy to get enraptured by something, to get caught up in the moment, and to respond emotionally to the stimuli around us. I can remember going to Creation Festival Northeast in Pennsylvania years ago. For those of you who have never heard of that festival, it is like Woodstock for Christians. They have multiple stages, tons of bands, breakout sessions, etc., and the festival lasts a good four days. What that means is you have people camping out all over the place. It is huge. The average attendance is anywhere between 50,000 to 100,000 people annually if you can picture it.

At that festival, I remember on the closing night, they held a communion candlelight service. If you can picture 50,000 to 100,000 flames flickering in the darkness and the same number of people taking communion and singing hymns together, then you are probably getting goosebumps right now. It was breathtakingly powerful and, I left that service feeling high on the Holy Spirit. People had been invited to accept Jesus into their hearts, and now new and veteran Christians alike, we were sharing in the most sacred and mysterious meal of all-time. How could I not be enraptured.

But then reality hit. The festival ended, we all took the three or so hour trip home, and life continued to revolve. Eventually that spiritual high left, and the lows of life (stress, anxiety, fatigue, etc.) took over. I co-lead a spiritual retreat for youth and young adult every year and those kids get enraptured in a similar way. By the end of the retreat they have had a very personal encounter with Jesus and they leave with a spiritual high. However, after they return to their lives in the world, they soon find themselves with all of the same challenges that they had before coming on the retreat. Hopefully, they then lean on Christ as their Lord and Savior during their trials, but that does not keep the trials and struggles from happening.

In today’s Scripture, we see a man who is caught up in such an emotional moment. He’s someone who has had a personal encounter with Jesus and is on a spiritual high. In that moment, he is eager to become a follower of Jesus. “I will follow you wherever you go,” the man exclaims. What becomes puzzling is Jesus’ response to him. “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head” (Luke 9:58, NLT). It’s not that Jesus said no to this man, but he didn’t exactly say yes to him either. What could he possibly have meant.

I think what Jesus was doing was letting this man know what following him wherever he goes actually meant. It meant a life of wandering around from place to place. It meant sacrificing time with family, time with friends, work time, and leisure time. It meant stepping out of one’s comfort zone and making oneself vulnerable in a cruel, hostile and evil world. It is one thing to say that you will follow Jesus wherever he goes, it is a completely different thing to ACTUALLY do that.

Friends, the grace of God in redemptive work of Jesus Christ is a free gift for all, but that does not mean it is without cost. In answering the call of Christ, I have endured insults, mean comments, loss of friendships, long hours of service, and many other things. Paul put the life of discipleship best when he wrote,

“I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.”  (2 Corinthians 11:26-27, NLT)

The challenge for us is understanding that the Christian life is about accepting Christ’s reign over our lives and following him wherever he leads us. That means prioritizing Christ and his mission above everything else. This life is the true life because it is the way of Christ which leads to eternal life. It is an infectious life that spreads to and transforms others. It isn’t easy, but it is eternally rewarding. Are you ready for such a life? I certainly pray you are.

“You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.” – Sammy Davis, Jr.

Lord, I commit my life to you. Continue to strengthen me to grow in that commitment. Amen.

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