Links Daily Devotional

Christian or Disciple?, Part 3: The Cost of Following Jesus

Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:19-20, NIV)

When I was in school and Michael Jordan was in his prime, I had to have the next pair of Jordan shoes when they came out. I eagerly wore those shoes and baggy shorts, and while I wanted to “be like Mike,” I didn’t quite make it to his level. Somehow, I was overlooked by UNC, the Chicago Bulls, and the USA Olympic team. So, I eventually settled for golf!

I never really have been that way about any golfers, but we all know him—in fact, you might be “that guy!” You know the one. He has every new piece of equipment that his favorite player uses, and he pays to go to the golf school of his favorite player’s instructor. He even wears the outfit that his favorite wore last Sunday—right down to the belt, shoes, and hat. I always get a kick out of “that guy,” but I sure love his enthusiasm!

I often wish I could have that kind of enthusiasm for Jesus, but honestly I don’t. I am working on it, but I’m finding it is really slow to come (maybe you have discovered the same to be true).

I’m not trying to go so far that that I’m going to grow my beard out and become a carpenter, but I do want to become more like him and follow him wherever he wants me to go. Still, something keeps getting in my way. It’s called the world.

Our desire to adhere to our society and culture is so alluring that we often merge our faith into it and make changes to God’s Word to fit our lifestyle. Most of us have found it to be pretty comfortable and acceptable simply to believe in Jesus. We can even go a step further and actively participate in Christian activities or put religious symbols on our car’s bumper. And as long as we feel that we are keeping up with the expectations others have of Christians, then we trick ourselves into the mentality that we are living in a way that is pleasing to God.

The more I examine Jesus’ own words in the Gospels, the more I am convinced that Jesus would express stronger contempt for many professing Christians and the institutions and teachings that we’ve established than he would the outright immoral sinners and heathens. He would be extremely concerned with those of us who try to serve two masters, God and man. Because we try to do this, we compromise our unwavering service to God and slightly distort his truth in order that we may be comfortable and conform to the patterns of the world. However, we never can truly see God’s plan for us if we are trying to fit it into our worldly desires (see Romans 12:2).

Jesus tells us through Scripture that following him comes with a price. Yet I would offer that simply believing in Jesus as the Son of God or claiming Christianity does not. You can go to church every Sunday, read your Bible and pray every morning, tithe and give to the poor, and do your best to live by the 10 Commandments and the other widely accepted “rules” of Christianity and never actually suffer any persecution for Christ here in many parts of the world. You have figured out how to make a Christian approach to life comfortably work for you and your family, and your spiritual beliefs offer you psychological comfort for today and the afterlife. But if Jesus himself asked you to sell everything you have, give it to the poor and follow him (Matthew 19:16-22), or to not return home to take care of some family matters first (Matthew 8:21-22), your comforts would meet up with a crisis of decision.

Jesus did not offer his disciples the luxury of tending to their worldly needs first so that they could follow him. He asked them to put nothing above him and the kingdom of God. And because he knew the hearts of men, he would address them at their vulnerability.

So where is your heart? What things could you not give up if asked by Jesus to follow him? If being a Christian in your circle does not come at any cost, I would ask if your Christianity has any room for following Christ.

Josh Nelson

July 11, 2012

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