What it Means to Follow Christ

I had a friend who owned a 9’6″ longboard which had it’s origins somewhere in the early 70’s. The thing was a beast. Dark green and heavy, it caught waves really well but was a feat of strength to turn. It had no leash plug, not even an old fashioned hole in the fin to tie one on – consequently he would surf it without a leash. He was pretty good, so it usually wasn’t a problem.
What was awesome about that board was it’s intimidation factor. If you dropped in on that board, you would not win. It would plow you under. On days when the swell was particularly good and the numbers of boards in the water were increasing by the hour, my friend would smile and pat that huge green beast of a board and say “I’m not worried about how many are out here. I have a CROWD CONTROL board.”

Crowd control. That’s sorta’ what Jesus is about in the section we’ll be reading in Luke this week. (Luke 14:25-35)

Jesus is experiencing what it seems most contemporary pastors in the U.S. are obsessed with achieving – large crowds.   Jesus never seems to be able to appreciate big crowds, because when he has them, he always seems to make “crowd control” statements which thins the herd. John 6 is a great example of that too.  In this instance, Jesus begins spelling out in stark, even harsh, detail what following him really means, what it will really cost.  Why do you suppose he said this in this context?

He talks about hating family members and hating self in order to follow him.  Wow. As modern pastors, we scramble around as quickly as possible to explain it doesn’t really mean that (and it doesn’t in terms of the straight English reading of it)….BUT, Jesus never qualifies what he says.  He just pulls the pin on the grenade and smiles.  I find that both fascinating, admirable – and scary.  How do you read this? What do you think he’s saying?

He also talks about counting the cost of following him, illustrating it with a story of an incomplete construction project and a king considering going to war with insufficient forces. The thrust of both those stories is RE-EVALUATION.  What is Jesus telling us we will need to reevaluate when we count the cost of following him?

If we follow Jesus we are not defined by our families (v25-26), we are not defined by our own self will (v27), and v 33 tells us what ELSE we are not defined by.  What does he say, and how badly does it cut us as good American consumers?

Jesus pulls no punches in this section. This is a crowd control speech if ever there was one. His words are a dividing line between spectators and the team. These aren’t words to apply to everyone else, these words are missiles aimed at our own heart. These are words to wrestle with – they are designed to produce crisis. Crisis which leads to conversion and correction and ultimately, the best life possible on this broken planet. Salt, after all, is GOOD.

Ok…well, this is stuff to ruminate on until Sunday. Hope to see you there!

The Right Kind of Sell-Out

Robert Kearns is the guy who invented the intermittent wiper blade.  He got shafted by the auto industry who basically stole his design, and had to go to court to sue for recompense and damages.  He won after many, many years of litigation.  They made a movie about it called “Flash of Genius”.  I saw that movie a while back.  What struck me most was how completely sold out Kearns was to getting justice for his injury.  So much so, he lost everything in the process of winning his law-suit.  His wife, his kids…all who were close to him.  But he was committed to winning his case, so everything else was expendable by default.

I don’t know if I admire him or pity him…I really don’t.  The thing is, you can’t help but notice commitment like that.  It’s radical.  Troubling as it may be, Jesus calls us to that same kind of radical commitment when it comes to following Him.

We’re looking at Luke 9:57-62 this Sunday.  Jesus will be approached by three different would-be disciples.  They each represent three qualifications for commitment to Christ and His Kingdom.  This is no-holds-barred, sharped edged stuff here.  No one can read this brief account and not feel some sort of cut.  As you read it, what challenges do you encounter?  If we compare our own lifestyles (as 21st Century American Christians) with the claims Jesus seems to lay on our lives…how deep does our own commitment run?  What does counting the cost of following Christ mean to you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts…even though this is a tough subject.

The Cost of Commitment

Last Wednesday we taught on Proverbs 5.  Several people expressed that it was helpful…and I just thought that if you weren’t able to be there…you might find it beneficial too.   You can listen to it here: Proverbs 5

This Sunday we’ll be reading Luke 9:7-9, 18-27.

The overall theme we find here is underscored by the question, “who is Jesus?”  The answer to that question propels Jesus’ conversation with his disciples toward the reality check about what this will cost them to follow him.  Ultimately, that is the theme.  The cost of commitment to follow Christ.

How do you feel about Jesus’ command to “take up a cross” and follow him?  Imagine what that must’ve meant to those who grew up watching the Roman’s brutally execute people they’d known all their lives…how insensitive that must have sounded. What does his command mean to you?  How would you apply it to your own life circumstances?

Losing and finding are repeated themes in this section.  Losing our life to find life…what a strange line of reasoning.  How does that reasoning flow with the values of our present culture?  What do you believe Jesus meant by saying that?

This will be a challenging passage of Scripture to wrestle with.  So bring your wrestling shoes this Sunday and we’ll grapple with this thing together!