Monday, September 6, 2010


I've just started reading a book called Radical. It's already a bit disturbing, but the author asks some questions that have always concerned me. Church, in middle class America, looks nothing like the church in the Bible...but for me, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Being a follower of Jesus, in His own words, has some implications that challenge me. Listen to his words-

Luke 9:57 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go." 58 And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." 59 And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." 60 But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." 61 Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." 62 But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

So These men come to Jesus and express an interest in following Him and His responses them are-
You can expect homelessness in the journey ahead.
Don't go to your dad's funeral, there's more important work to be done.
You can't go say goodbye to your family, if they're more important than this you're not fit for the kingdom.

What about in Luke 14:25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 "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. 27 "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 "Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, `This man began to build and was not able to finish.' 31 "Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 "Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 "So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Again, what are the implications of the things Jesus is talking about?
Forsaking everything, selling everything, abandoning everything...consider the cost and then decide if you are really willing to follow me.

Another time, a wealthy young man approaches Jesus expressing a desire to follow Him. Jesus responded to him in Mark 10:21b"One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." Again, give up everything and follow me.

Interestingly enough, when Jesus called His disciples, they did just what Jesus is asking these other people to do. They left their businesses, their homes, their families...everything to follow Him.

In Matthew 13, Jesus describes His kingdom like this; vs. 44 "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Again, forsaking everything to follow Him, selling everything to pursue His kingdom.

I've heard many explanations over the years about these texts, what this would have meant in "their" culture. How this was for that dispensation. I've even heard these scriptures used to justify and inspire building programs or commitments to tithing or voluntary service in the nursery.

Here's the thought that troubles me, what if Jesus meant that for me to follow Him I have to be willing to give up everything? I don't see Him telling any of these people to confess, believe and pray this's not in there. He doesn't say to find a good Bible believing church and get plugged in. He says sell it all, forsake it all, give up everything, pick up your cross and come follow me. I've often struggled with how easily we become followers of Jesus today, is it supposed to be that easy? Or is it supposed to be a daunting proposition to be His follower? If it's a simple decision away, then what's all this talk about considering the cost about?

I wonder what the church in America would look like today if we used Jesus outreach strategies? There are many parts of the world where becoming a follower of Jesus means all of these things. Forsaking, selling, abandoning and dying. In America, becoming a follower of Jesus means your Sunday mornings are now booked. And if you're really serious Sunday and Wednesday evenings too. Is it supposed to be like this? Or are we called to something more radical than American Christianity?