Following Jesus

In Blog, Theology by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

“Attractional” outreach seems like a really odd concept to me given all that Jesus said about being a follower of his. The term, “attractional” seems to imply that people have to be lured into discipleship.

The opposite is more often the case. Make sure that people understand the cost in the beginning and you will have a better idea of whether they have the interest and stamina to walk down the road of discipleship. My experience has been that folks bail out pretty quickly when they discover the costs that Jesus imposes.

Jesus, himself, said that a builder first discovers the cost a building will incur before he sticks his financial neck out (Luke 14:28). Similarly, a king doesn’t go to war against an enemy without first determining if he has enough soldiers to win such a battle (Luke 14:31).

You can see Jesus’ commitment to this idea in his approach to would-be disciples. On one occasion, Jesus encountered three individuals that represent folks who didn’t have what it takes to be a true Jesus’ follower.

The first individual seems to have strong desires for comfort. Jesus warns him that Jesus is often homeless with an implied question – Are you willing to live without the usual security of rootedness and stability? In today’s economy this gets translated into house, car, wardrobe, education, leisure, and career. Important factors, to be sure, but also very likely to be upset by Jesus. “Are you ready for this?” Jesus seems to ask.

The second individual says “I need to bury my father.” On the face it this, taking care the burial of one’s father doesn’t seem like a very big request. However, it appears that something else is being implied in this request, namely, to be able to care for parents throughout the remainder of their lives until they die. This request was to be family-centric in one’s priorities.

The third and final disciple asks to go home and say goodbye to family. This seems like the lease most innocuous request. How long can saying goodbye take? But this request seems to be rooted in regret or nostalgia, powerful emotions that threaten the impulse to follow Jesus.

Contrast all these worldly attractions to what Jesus demands in Matthew 10 and 19.   

If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine…everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sister or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return…”  Matthew 10:37; 19:29.

Today’s instant-gratification society doesn’t mesh with Jesus’ demand for our full allegiance. Like a kid that calls home to find out if his own mother’s menu for the evening is better than the mom of his friend, so also do we put God on a who-has-the-best-offer status in our life decisions. “Would I rather go to the Disneyland than to worship?”

The result is cataclysmic to mission. You can’t depend on someone who has no allegiance other than personal gratification. Jesus knew this, and that’s why he warned the guy who was afraid of discomfort.

Where does your allegiance lie?

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