Summary: Here is my adaptation of a sermon contributed by Tim Zingale, Sermon Central, Sept. 2007, "The Rabbit". The focus of my adaptation is the declining vitality of the universal Christian church resulting from having lost sight of Christ, the cornerstone of God's redemptive church.
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One day, a young disciple of Christ who wanted to become everything that God had in mind for him visited the home of an elderly Christian seeking his advice. He had heard that this old man had never lost his love for Christ in all the years he had known the Savior.
The old Christian was sitting on the porch with his dog stretched out before him taking in a beautiful sunset. The young man asked a question: "Why is it, sir, most Christians zealously chase after God during the first year or two after their decision to follow him, but then fall into the complacent ritual of merely attending church once or twice a week and end up losing their passion for the Lord?” The young man continued: “I have heard you are not like that. I’ve been told that you have fervently sought after God throughout your years as a Christian. People see something in you that they don’t see in most people who claim to be Christians. What makes you different?"
The old man smiled and replied, "Let me tell you a story: One day I was sitting here quietly in the sun with my dog. Suddenly a large white rabbit ran across in front of us. Well, my dog jumped up, and took off after that big rabbit. He chased the rabbit over the hills with a passion. Soon, other dogs joined him, attracted by his barking. What a sight it was, as that pack of dogs ran barking across the creeks, up stony embankments and through thickets and thorns! Gradually, however, one by one, the other dogs dropped out of the pursuit, discouraged by the course and frustrated by the chase. Only my dog continued to hotly pursue the white rabbit. In that story, young man, is the answer to your question."
The young man sat in confused silence. Finally, he asked, "I don’t understand. What is the connection between the rabbit chase and the quest for God?"
"You fail to understand," answered the older man, "because you failed to ask the obvious question—‘Why didn’t the other dogs continue on the chase?’ And, the answer to that question is that they were only joining the excitement of the group. They had not seen the rabbit. Unless you have actually seen the rabbit, the chase is just too difficult. You will lack the passion and determination necessary to keep up the chase."
And this brings us to the pertinent topic of this particular discourse: Have you seen the Lord? Have you really seen Him? Do you realize and accept that He is carrying a cross. Do you understand what it means to be a Christian? In order to follow after Him, the first prerequisite is that we actually see Him and understand what it means to be called to Christian discipleship.
In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus talks about the importance of counting the cost of becoming His disciple. Jesus tells them, and us, that it is not easy to be His disciple. There is a price to be paid for becoming a Christian, the complete surrender of all self-interest. Jesus says, "If any man desires to follow Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and, whosoever will lose his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25). If requested of us, we must surrender all. All things, including love of family and self, must be subordinated to our loyalty to God.
Christians are called to put in second place everything in our lives except God’s will for us. God comes first. God comes before family. God comes before our friends. God comes before our own lives. God is our ultimate concern. As we let the impact of that statement filter into our hearts and minds, we see that Jesus is calling us to a radical kind of life, a life which sets those who follow Him apart from the rest of society.
Jesus asks his disciples if they are willing to pay that kind price to follow Him? And He asks us, are we willing to turn the love we have for Him into actions that will potentially set us apart, separate us, isolate us from our friends and families, and from our personal goals and ambitions? That is a big price to pay. Are you able to be “crucified” with Him?
Christianity is not just a nice philosophy. Christianity is a personal commitment to follow Jesus Christ as Lord. Do you want to His disciple? If you want to follow Him, here is what you are called to do. Place Him first above everything else in your life, and then before you say that you are willing to do that, you had better count the cost. Are you willing to make such a sacrifice for Him? Are you really willing to pay that kind of price?