I just concluded a sermon series on becoming FULLY DEVOTED FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST entitled Denial. While it seems so simple to say that we are “disciples,” the literal translation of that word means “apprentice.” An apprentice is someone who is learning in a hands-on environment. That is a tough thing to do with Jesus because, as I’ve learned over the last 6 weeks, Jesus calls us to a life of uncomfortable, luxury-free living. In Luke 9:57 Jesus has an eager man come up to him and boldly proclaim “I will follow you no matter where you go!” Now it stands to reason that this would have been someone that Jesus would have wanted to have follow him! After all, I’m a pastor, and I love it when people say, I’m ready to do whatever you need me to do. But Jesus’ response to this “gung-ho” potential follower is pointed and discouraging. “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of my own, not even a place to lay my head!” (Luke 9:58 NLT) If you say you want to follow me, then you better be prepared to be homeless! No comforts, no pillows or blankets, no luxuries! Jesus goes on to discourage even more people! Understand that when we come to Christ and seek to follow Him, there is a price to be paid! There is a cost to be counted! Our comforts, our luxuries, our responsibilities and even our families pale in comparison to following Christ!
That is a tough one to swallow isn’t it?
To conclude our time on this subject I challenged my congregation to “give up” a comfort for ONE WEEK for the sake of pursuing Christ! I know that this sounds simple, but we have to start somewhere, right? I pray that losing our comfort for a week, will help us gain some insight into what it truly means to follow Christ.
I was reading this morning in 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul is talking about the “thorn in the flesh” that has been allowed upon him by God. Paul desperately prays time and time again for this to be removed from Him and time and time again the words of Christ come to Paul loud and clear, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness!” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT)
To be followers of Christ, we must come to a place in our lives where we realize that comfort, strength and luxury in our lives is a detriment to the Kingdom of God! His power in us is perfected as we follow him out of weakness and uncomfortableness! As followers of Christ, we must desire to deny ourselves of anything that is going to get in the way of the power and grace of God in our lives. Most of the time our stuff and our comforts do just that! Get in the way!
I want God to make me a follower. How about you? I don’t think we really know or have even scratched the surface of what it means to follow Him. I do believe, though, that we CAN truly follow (the way those disciples followed – with reckless abandon) and see the glory of God grow and the kingdom of God impacted!