Summary: Part 5 in series Life Management 101. Dave encourages Christians and non-Christians to count the cost of following Jesus.
Part 4 of series Life Management 101
Wildwind Community Church
July 16, 2006
Luke 9:57-62 (NIV)
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."
58 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
59 He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."
62 Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
I want to talk to you about a critical component of life management. In fact, it’s so critical that until you get this, you will never get any of the rest of it. I want to talk to you today about discipleship, which means following Jesus Christ and learning how to live our lives the way he lived his life – not just in terms of doing what he did, but of valuing what he valued, of spending our time the way he spent his time, of prioritizing the things (and the kinds of people) he prioritized, of having the kind of attitudes he had.
Did our passage make you uncomfortable this morning? Do you hear this and think, “How could Jesus be so cruel as to not let a grieving man bury his father, or say good-bye to his own family.” We are dealing today with one of the most troubling things Jesus said, and I want to be honest about that. I’ll also say that I think the sorry state of the American church today is due almost entirely to the way this passage, and passages like it, have been neglected.
There is a cost to following Jesus. In fact, should you actually choose to follow Jesus, it will cost you everything. And I do mean everything. I don’t know if you’ve been sensing it or not, but in the sermons I’ve been preaching in this series, what I have actually been calling for is a massive re-orientation of how we live in this world. Because that is what is required to follow Jesus. The messages in this series should be getting under your skin – they should be agitating you – maybe making you uncomfortable. Preparing them has certainly had that effect on me.
Let me tell you why this stuff hits us so hard. Somewhere along the line, we got our theology screwed up. Somewhere along the line, many of us learned that our salvation depends on one thing and one thing only – that is, saying a prayer to Jesus and asking him to forgive our sins. That’s it. Anytime anyone has suggested that there’s a certain kind of life we must live after that, they have been accused of promoting a “works theology,” using this verse as an argument:
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
The argument has been, “Ephesians says we are saved by grace through our faith in Christ – and that’s it. It’s not by works, in other words, there’s nothing WE can do to earn our salvation. Therefore don’t be telling me that I have to put Christ in the driver’s seat of my life, that I have to follow him in every possible sense – my Bible says I am saved by God’s grace as his gift to me.”
So what has happened is that literally millions of Christians have come to believe that Jesus can play two roles in our lives, and that they are separate roles – Savior, and Lord. In other words, forgiver of our sins, and leader of our lives. Many think they can allow Christ to forgive their sin and keep them out of hell without also giving their lives to him, and learning from him what life really is. These are the Christians who might be prepared for life after death, but they are sorely prepared for life before death, as they claim to be Christians, yet demonstrate almost exactly the same lives that non-Christians live. Our divorce rates are actually a little higher. Many of our marriages go on in shambles year after year. We don’t have any lower rates of domestic violence. As a group Christians are known not for our love, but for our lack of love. We go on for years carrying resentments and bitterness, struggling with rage or lust, and even find ways to justify it. And in all this we rely on God’s saving grace – “Thank God Jesus died to save me from all this sin I’m carrying around.” Have we thought about what that’s really saying? “Thank God Jesus suffered and died so that I could remain mired in my sin for the rest of my life, and use his death to justify it.”