Thursday, November 5, 2009

You Can't Follow Without Leaving

We started a series the week called "Follow the Leader" where we will talk about what all it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. This first message was about how when we're called to be follower's of Jesus we are required to leave stuff behind. We've all had that feeling like we've forgotten something and left it behind. Or maybe we've given up something for a while like sweets, cokes, etc. It can feel strange when this happens. It may feel unnatural at first to give up something in order to follower Jesus but that's what we're called to do. We looked at a couple of examples of people who didn't want to leave everything behind to follow Jesus and those who did.

Leaving or abandonment was a common element when Jesus called disciples to follow Him. It was tradition in these days for a group of men to follow a rabbi. They would take pride in their rabbi and would travel around with them everywhere trying to learn as much as possible. The scribe or teacher pursues Jesus. He would have been someone that was looked up to in society. Jesus knows his heart and that the man wants to follow Jesus maybe to gain fame or notoriety that might come from following Jesus. So Jesus is honest with him and says if you're going to follow me, I want you to know that I'm pretty much homeless. Jesus didn't try to sell him on a lie, he was completely honest with him about the fact that it may be tough, even though the blessings will outweigh the cost. Jesus wasn't about getting as many followers as possible, he wanted dedicated and committed followers

This guy is already a disciple but not one of the 12. At this time there was probably around 100 or so people who followed Jesus around. This passage used to confuse me until I studied the context of it. I used to think that Jesus wasn't allowing the man to go to his dad's funeral. But the truth is that the man's father hadn't died yet. When he said let me go bury my father what he really meant was this- Jesus I want to follow, but let me wait until my dad dies so I can gain his inheritance. In other words he was saying- Jesus I want to follow you, but just not right now. The scary thing about this kind of mentality is that none of us are promised another second so we may not live until that later time. Also if this is your mentality then your heart may harden over time and you never actually get around to truly following Jesus

Matthew would have been despised because of his occupation as a tax collector who would overcharge the citizens in order to make money. Matthew could have had many excuses for not following Jesus maybe because he might have thought he wasn't good enough to follow Him. However he left his job, the wealth, and the wickedness to follow Jesus.

Jesus has Peter take him out in the water and drop his nets to catch fish. Peter agrees even though they hadn't caught anything for a while and they catch so much fish that the nets began to break and they fill two boats with fish. After this Peter, James, and John left everything- they're business, boats, supplies, all the fish they had just caught, everything in order to follow Jesus

When Jesus called you to follow Him, he called you to follow Him completely. May seem hard at first, but will become easier with time. Some people treat their relationship with Jesus like this- "I'm going to follow Jesus and be a Christian but still get drunk, have pre-marital sex, do drugs, cuss, cheat, lie, gossip, be mean to people, ignore the kid in class who doesn't have friends, disrespect my parents, not read my Bible because I can listen to it being read at church, go to school where I want, choose my own career, etc. But I encourage you to ask yourself this honestly- "If you had to choose between God and (fill in the blank)- what would you choose?" The Bible clearly tells us you can't serve two masters. You need to make Jesus your only pursuit. When this happens your relationships, career, school, all decisions will be determined by where He leads you. As you follow Him these decisions will all be based on following Him. Is there anything you need to leave behind so that you can truly be a follower of Christ?

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