“Following Jesus”sounds like a faithful things to say.
It is a much more difficult thing to do.
Jesus gives us three reasons not to do it.
Reason 1. Security.
Jesus says, “The son of man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58b). In other words, following him will not be comfortable. It will not be stable. It will not result in ‘success’ or material gain. It will not be safe. We focus our lives around security and ‘success.’ Jesus is headed to Jerusalem and the cross. Following Jesus often takes us to places where we are uncomfortable and where much is asked of us. Jesus asks for our entire lives, and perhaps even our life itself.
If you seek safety and being comfortable; don’t follow Jesus.
Reason 2. Restrictions.
Jesus says, “let the dead bury their own dead” (Luke 9:60). It sounds cold and indifferent, and shouldn’t the church be doing funerals? But what Jesus is saying here is that we often let others dictate our limitations of what we can or cannot do; or where we can or cannot do. I have a sign on my desk that reads “Everything is Figureoutable.” Too often we don’t believe solutions to our challenges are even possible.
If you want to live within restrictions; don’t follow Jesus.
Reason 3. Distractions.
Jesus says, “No one who puts the hand to the plow and looks back will inherit the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:62). While understanding the past often provides wisdom for navigating current challenges, nostalgia can also hold us captive and keep us understanding current realities and from moving forward at all. Keeping up with what everyone else is saying and doing on your feeds everywhere else while neglecting the people around you in the here and now keeps you from tending to what is more important. Worrying about the challenges of the future without seeing Jesus right in front of you now scatters your focus on your mission and purpose. It is difficult to plow in a straight line if your vision is not kept on the field and you are looking elsewhere.
If you are held hostage what everyone else is doing; don’t follow Jesus.
Yet…following Jesus can change our lives.
Jesus “set his face to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). These invitations into discipleship are all given within the context of immersing ourselves in the very mission Jesus has come to fulfill. Jerusalem leads to the cross – a place where security, restriction and nostalgia lack meaning in the stench of suffering, abandonment and death. However, the cross of Jesus leads to resurrection; where the sweet fragrance of new life blooms. Being on the road with Jesus from death to new life leads to transformation.
Instead of seeking security no matter what the cost to ourselves or to others we are led away from the perspective of scarcity and suspicion that too often consumes us into gratitude and generosity.
Instead of sulking in others’ expectations of who we are or what we do; we are given hearts for service new passion for justice, and open-minds to see new possibilities that can raises the lives of others.
Instead of holding on to what we remember to save us from our current challenges; Jesus opens us to new futures we could not imagine on our own. Creativity, collaboration and community can cultivate what the Spirit is doing through reinvigorated relationships.
So….do you want to follow Jesus?
I suppose it depends on what you seek.
If it is security, restrictions and distractions; stay home.
If it is ongoing encouragement that opens your heart, sees new possibilities, and longs for God’s good future; then press on. Jerusalem awaits and Jesus will be with you.
What is holding you back that you could leave behind?