Life is a series of small decisions, and in the Lord those decisions involve either making us into the image of our Lord, or making the Lord into our image. Each decision is either a decision for growth and change, or remaining in the familiar and comfortable.
This series is about how people miss the Lord’s perfect will, and I’m starting with the call to discipleship – not just a believer, but a disciple.
Jesus is not seeker-friendly
We live in a church culture that says just ‘accept’ Jesus and He will make all things better in life, “invite Him into your life” means He will come into your life and change it for the better. Where is the gospel of the scriptures that tells us salvation is about us changing into His image?
When a person makes the decision to follow Jesus based on the modern version of the gospel, when the time comes that He asks them to make a hard decision like forgive someone, or to take a step of faith and take a job or course of study that wasn’t in their plans, they will most often remain in their comfort zone ‘just a little bit longer Lord’. At that point they explain away their refusal to grow – ‘When they pick up the phone and contact me I’ll respond’ – instead of reaching out to try to build a bridge. “I will do that Lord, as soon as I get the job and housing lined up”, and when it doesn’t happen they explain it away by saying it must not have been God after all, but really what happened is their love became cooler for the Lord, wanting to serve Him in the comfort – whether that be their familiar bitterness towards someone, or refusing to enter into ministry – they delude themselves into thinking they love the Lord just as much, for their refusal to grow proves otherwise.
All the while He is faithful to give them His peace down in their spirit, signaling He has made the way if they will just step out…to forgive, to move, to reach out to that person…but so often they won’t follow that peace – they love the Lord they say, but at that point they have become a hearer and not a doer.
Last week we looked at 3 men which represented 3 categories of conditions people place on the Lord before they will walk in His perfect will for them: Comfort of knowing where they will live, financial security, and the support of family and friends.
But look at other things Jesus said. To Peter He said if we want to follow Him we must take up our cross to do so. It was Peter’s rebuke of Jesus in Matthew 16:21-26 suggesting Jesus not go to the cross that got the Lord’s statement about carrying our cross, with the revelation to think otherwise is from Satan. Jesus said Peter cherished the plans of man rather than the plans of God, and that anyone who follows Jesus must crucify their own plans and carry that cross of God’s plans for their life. That doesn’t sound like Jesus conforming to our plans, but rather us crucifying (in a torturous process) our plans because we love Him so very much.
In Luke 14:26 Jesus said if you did not ‘love less’ your extended family you can’t follow Him. (Wife is not included in the Greek, and the KJV using ‘hate’ is not ‘hate’ in Greek, but ‘love less’, the sentence is a contrast putting love of Jesus so far above the love of those closest to you the contrast appears love/hate.) In other words – our love for the Lord is to be so white hot that in comparison our love for our extended family is far, far less. Is that true of us? Does our (your) extended family know you will follow Jesus’ will for your life and ignore their emotion filled and reasoned plans for you if He asked you to do so?
The conditions Jesus placed on following Him are very different from ‘invite Jesus into your life’. The truth is, He is inviting us into His life, and it comes with a price:
Total abandonment to Him in a life-long process of being conformed into His image, continuously affirmed by a life-long series of small decisions.
We have millions of believers but relatively few disciples
Many people have a difficult time following Jesus in part because they approach His will in their lives in the same casual way they became a believer – hand raised, inviting Jesus into their life, praying along with everyone else in the congregation, and they were taught a gospel that says Jesus will conform to your life by healing your money, your body, and your relationships. So they approach their walk with Him in that same casual way, crying and whining with no backbone when He places before them what to them is a crisis-point decision, never having the drive to become the best person they can be in Him, conformed to His nature and character.
But Jesus is THE King and is the same Lord who made those statements in the gospels requiring totally abandonment of self to become a disciple. So when they say “I will follow you anywhere”, He hears that through the ears of His statements in the gospels – and He will arrange things in your life accordingly.
But when they say ‘I will follow you anywhere’, having come into the kingdom in that casual, hand raised easy gospel culture, they want to hold onto their plans and their (flawed, baggage filled character), loving the Lord only to the point Jesus makes it all better for them. Next week – a series of small decisions for Peter.
Peter’s decisions…really, I will pick it up there next week…:)