In our sermon yesterday, the Holy Spirit challenged us from the Gospel of Mark with what Jesus said to the first disciples to leave all and follow Him.
One helpful thought on this issue comes from Baptist pastor and missions-proponent David Platt. He comments on this radical way of following Jesus:
This is where we need to pause to consider whether we’re starting to redefine Christianity. We have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus. But slowly, subtly, we have reduced following Jesus to the idea of following Jesus.
We do this in all sorts of ways. We rationalize Jesus’ demanding teachings: “Of course, Jesus wasn’t actually telling you to abandon your family. And of course, He wasn’t really saying to leave everything behind to follow Him.”
While it’s true that Jesus didn’t-and doesn’t-require everyone to leave their father and their occupation to follow Him, He does require absolute obedience and commitment. Rather than joyfully embracing His call, we have the self-serving tendency to water it down to be theoretical sacrifice and hypothetical abandonment. We want to follow a Jesus that doesn’t require anything of us.
In essence, we’ve redefined Christianity. We’ve given in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist Him into a version of Jesus we’re more comfortable with. It’s a Jesus who’s OK with our materialism, fine with nominal devotion that doesn’t require any sacrifice, and pleased with a brand of faith that requires attendance on Sunday but no real commitment in day-to-day life.
But I wonder if I could help you push through the haze of self-justification and ask a simple question as we study the words of Christ together: What if He was actually serious?
Jesus does not require the same kind of obedience from every one of His followers, but as Platt reminds us, He does require the same radical willingness to sacrifice and commitment to His kingdom. Has the Gospel gripped you to the extent that you are willing to leave everything for Him? May that be increasingly true of us at Zion!