Sacrifice isn’t easy. In fact, the very thought of it completely rebels against everything inside of our DNA. We were born into this world with one purpose. To get what we can for ourselves. That is, after all, the American dream. Graduate high school and go to college. Leave the university of higher learning and snag a successful job with the obtained degree. Get a nice house in the suburbs, perfectly square yard, and don’t forget the white picket fence. Make enough money to keep up with our neighbors and all their toys. The ultimate pursuit of happiness.
When Jesus chose the twelve disciples, He pulled them away from everything they had ever known. They were fishermen by trade. It’s how they made a living. Jesus walked up and asked them to drop what they were doing and follow Him. He asked them to give up security, stable income, comfort, their families, everything. They were called to follow someone they didn’t know and live a life of ultimate sacrifice. That’s all kinds of crazy. No one in their right mind would consider doing that. Not even for a second. Now a days it would be more about asking questions like how much is the pay, is there full medical and dental, or what about 401k?
The disciples dropped their nets and followed. While it’s not that far a stretch for me to understand how they could do that, I still think they were nuts. Especially when Jesus said He was going to send them out like “sheep among wolves”. I have never observed any sheep near some wolves, but I can’t imagine that would end very well for the meek little sheep. I’ve asked myself over and over if Jesus walked up to me right now and said leave it all behind…your job, your house, your car, your savings account (all $30 of it)…drop it all right now and let’s go. We’ve got work to do. Could I do it? I want to believe that I would say yes, let’s do this. I feel as if I’ve already sacrificed some things for the Gospel, but have I truly given it all? Jesus gave His whole life as a sacrifice so we wouldn’t have to suffer the punishment we all so greatly deserve. Why would I not want to give up everything I have to serve Him?
I’ve never seen a bumper sticker that reads “Following Jesus is not an easy thing to do.” Most churches aren’t going to tell you following Christ could cost you everything. You’re probably not going to hear the pastor get up on stage and say that your love for Jesus should be so strong, everything else pales in comparison and even looks like hate. Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” Now I personally don’t believe Jesus was saying anyone who wants to follow Him needs to hate his own family. That would go against everything He ever taught about love.
I believe we are to follow Jesus no matter what the cost. If our families don’t agree with us and chose to follow the world, it will obviously cause problems within the family dynamic. Our family members may even perceive that we hate them by that decision. We will lose friends by choosing to follow Jesus. We will lose business relationships. People are not going to like us when we start talking about Jesus. It will make some uncomfortable. It might even make some people attack us verbally or physically. I believe this is what Jesus was trying to convey to His disciples by using the illustration of hate. I’m not a theologian, so I may be completely wrong. I’m sure there are smarter people than me out there who could probably explain that passage much better.
So, if you’re reading this and you are somewhere in the middle, maybe on the fence about deciding if it’s worth it to follow Jesus, here are some things to ponder.
You shouldn’t follow Jesus if you want everyone to like you. (Mark 13:13 “Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”)
You shouldn’t follow Jesus if you aren’t willing to give up everything for the Gospel. (Luke 14:33 “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”)
You shouldn’t follow Jesus if you want an easy life. (Matthew 10:16-17 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues.”)
You should’t follow Jesus if you only want things for yourself. (Mark 8:34-35 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”)
You shouldn’t follow Jesus if your idea of Christianity is just attending church. (Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”)
There is this culture now that says following Jesus is hip, cool, trendy, fun, popular, comfortable, and safe. That message is being spoon-fed to the masses in order to keep them coming back for more. Social media is flooded with people spouting the name of Jesus all the time, while those very same people live however they please. Jesus needs to be more than just a hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. The message straight from the mouth of the One who gave His life for us is the complete opposite of what we’re being told.
I’ve learned from personal experience that following Jesus will cost something. How much are we willing to pay?
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Have a blessed day