The Grit Behind Following Jesus
Wrapping up an extended time of prayer.
How grateful I am, that the Lord has placed such a mandate on me for Him and His kingdom. I learned a long time ago there are things that get done, on much deeper levels, when extended periods of time…at the same time…are taken to be with Him. Trust me. Hours alone with Him, instead of just 5 minutes in the bathroom with a devotional, can cause principles to sink deep in the soul. Deep roots can form that weather any storm.
This morning while I’m just enjoying Him and the Word, I read a passage of scripture that stopped me in my tracks. I had read this statement hundreds of times through thirty five years of being a Christian. But this time as I read this, I stopped suddenly and heard in my head…
“Just Who in the world does He think He is?”
Instantly after I read the verse I’m about to quote, the ramifications of what He said started buzzing in my head. Here’s what I read…
“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:25-26
Before charging in, let’s notice something. The audience was a “great multitude”. Tons of folks. No getting around this one. No secret pledge handshake for the club. This is right out in the open so it’s clear to everyone. And He made very clear for all to hear and see that…everything, including those that you love the most, must be “hated”, leaving devotion only to Him if you want to even think about hanging around the treasures of the kingdom He brings…
JUST WHO IN THE WORLD DOES HE THINK HE IS?
I know there are many, even in our churches, that want to keep Jesus in the “Yeah, He was a good guy, a good teacher, did nice things, but He is just one of many…” club or grouping.
Looking at what He (Jesus) just said though, it is very clear that from His perspective it’s “His way or the highway.” No secret meanings…no beating around the bush…He demands absolute devotion to Him, sparing not yourself or your family.
Wonder with me what was going through the head of these disciples and the multitudes when they heard this. Actually I should ask as I did of myself…what is going on in your head right now when you read this?
No one in Jewish history that was a true man or woman of God would dream of saying such things. They would have been killed on the spot. And remember, almost from the very beginning of His ministry, they did try to kill Jesus…and then His followers after Him…numbers of times. He foretold this persecution would happen and that they (disciples) should not only expect it, but rejoice when it happens!
From heavens perspective, it’s a badge of honor worthy of incredible reward when you are persecuted for this message. Let’s realize then that for these things to be true there must be something inherently confrontational and offensive in what we are supposed to personally believe and then tell others.
Consider this. You’re probably not going to be beat up or killed for just being nice and telling everyone to just get along and go with the flow. What causes the institutions and “powers that be” to take issue and respond so harshly, even by death, is when your claims can cause potential and/or actual insurrection!
Let the weight of this word settle within you. It is nothing less than insurrection and upheaval that Jesus causes against the powers that destroy mankind and separate them from His love. An actual rebellion against religion, devils, self; any and all that hinders Him from being who He is to His creation. It is in this that we can begin to understand what he meant when He said the “…kingdom suffers violence, and the violent take it by force…” Matthew 11:12
His bold declarations of who He is and the expectations He has based on those things being true will no doubt bring insurrection to the “powers that be” of religion and devils. Religion that has power over men through their formulas of self-righteousness, and Satan himself that uses these things to imprison man by keeping him from a simple devotion to a Living God based solely on love and forgiveness. Religious rules of self-measured piety…and a fallen “god of this world”…will not easily give up their followers that keep them in power.
Jesus’ proclamations let us know that He has now exalted Himself above…far above…all these things. Jesus knew what He was saying and His audience knew what He was saying. There was no ambiguity.
Note: The Father is actually the One who gives Jesus that name above all others and has placed Him by His side in authority. Please be aware of context when I say that Jesus did these things. Thanks.
I was watching Bill OReilly the other night. I normally like Bill…not everything, but I think he tries to be a straight shooter. But in this instance he kept trying to bring up his belief that the Bible is mostly allegorical. In other words, the stories and illustrations that, though they are not really true as an event historically, they still teach good lessons.
Bill, I love ya and will still watch ya…but that belief is ridiculous and a person of your intelligence should realize so!
The Old Testament writers declared their writings were events of history…Jesus referred over and over to the Old Testament events as actual history, and the New Testament saints continually appealed to the fact that they saw Him…touched Him…heard Him….killed Him…and saw Him again three days later just as He said.
Historical facts…not storybook lessons.
I took the last thirty seconds to mention this fallacy for a simple reason. I believe many have blown off and ignored these incredibly blatant and confrontational statements of our Lord because of interpretational liberties that “soften” things up.
For example, if Jesus’ claim of total devotion to Him was allegorical, we might think something like “Well, He didn’t really mean that I am to hate things next to Him…I think generally He kinda just wants us to try to remember Him and…”
Noooo…you don’t have people trying to kill you when you are being allegorical!
No one, unless they thought they were God Himself, could make such demands. His own words and the followers after Him, made it very clear that…yep…He said it…He proved it… He is God. Not only the Redeemer of Mankind, but the Creator of Mankind.
Now to be sure, there certainly was persecution towards Him and the first century church…but also insanely unstoppable growth.
I think it’s important to consider these things in context with our culture today. I am convinced our effectiveness in this generation is handicapped if we are believing in a non-offensive, “soft coating” of Who and What Jesus is. Paralysis from the fear of offense has caused some to not proclaim clearly the foundation of His message that…He is God…He is right…and as our Creator…He can demand anything He wants of us.
Our pulpits need to be filled with the wonderful, albeit confrontational, declarations of who He is. Our homes need to be filled with the declarations of Who He is. Our schools need to be filled with these declarations. Whether home or school or work, these are our mission fields. These are the “all the world” we have been sent in to declare and demonstrate His Lordship and His love.
There is a term called “intervention” that is used when someone has a terrible addiction. The family or friends that love that person very deeply, reach a point of confrontation. They can no longer stand by and watch the self-destruction of the individual and those they love. So they step in, even violently sometimes, with the sole purpose of making that person see the truth! “Intervention” happens when those that love the hurting person step in and at any cost, will try to stop the destructive behavior
The human race needs intervention!
Jesus was bold and confrontational because we are addicted to our sin and separation from Him.
He has taken drastic measures to get us back (the cross). And now, the message given to the Church to proclaim far and wide, is designed to bring “intervention”. The gut level message of who we had become, and Who He is as our Redeemer, is meant to confront and offend with the purpose of the truth setting us free!
Might as well accept now that this message we are given to herald will always bring conflict. It is designed that all people will make a decision concerning Him. Every person’s eternal home will depend on their choice. And that choice many times brings with it difficult considerations and potentially harsh consequences.
Let me suggest something. Let’s not run from the 20 trillion lumens of light this verse exposes in us. You’re going to face Him and this truth one day…how about we do it on “friendlier” terms now, in the chambers of our hearts, before that mighty “Day”, when the whole host gets to see it.
Jesus is Lord. Take time to really, really, think about what that means.
In the same way my muscles grow because I make them “uncomfortable” in the gym…trust Him to get rid of any and all that hinders Him in your life…painful for sure…but worth it now and forever.
And by the way as a side note. All that “hate everything for His sake” stuff…He meant it wholeheartedly, but there is a reason behind it….and a good one. Once you are in right standing and perspective with God Himself, you’ll actually be what you really need to be to your family, friends, and loved ones…many of which will come to know Him as well. The Lord just didn’t want your loved ones to be excuses for your negligence of Him.