May 21, 2014.
Today it rained. Such a simple sentence, but what an impact it had on our mindset. We had just finished teaching English at the academy and we got back to the church went it decided to downpour. It was honestly the happiest I have been all trip. I was ecstatic. After we ate and the rain was still coming down strong, we circled up and started singing praise to The Lord above. What a wonderful time it was. When everything settled down, I had the opportunity to pull some friends aside and talk about different things, religious and other.
One of the ideas that my friend brought up in our conversation stemmed from a passage like this:
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home. Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.””
I think this is one of the passages that we don’t like to talk about much. We love to follow the words of Jesus except when it comes to something hard. This is a hard passage. Jesus is talking about the cost of discipleship here. The path to follow Jesus is not an easy path, contrary to pop-Christian ideas. You don’t just believe in Jesus and then everything is fine and dandy. Jesus said “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Those are harsh words, but that does not make them any less true.
Jesus expects our all. We are either all on for him, or we are off. There is no
pseudo-Christian. In fact, the church at Laodicea had this problem:
“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
The greek word for “spit you out of my mouth” literally means to vomit. So, being lukewarm makes The Lord sick. He says that he would rather us be cold than lukewarm. Apathy does not mix with Christianity. The cost of following Jesus is high, but the reward is eternal. I like the story of David buying an offering place to The Lord:
And Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be averted from the people.” Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him. Here are the oxen for the burnt offering and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you.” But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.
(II Samuel 24:21-25)
David said “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” There have been many sermons made on this verse, so I will leave this mostly for you to dwell on. Just know that the path to follow Jesus will, and should, cost you something, and that something is not going to be cheap, whatever it is. May The Lord give us strength to take up our cross daily and follow him.
Suggested Daily Reading: II Samuel 24, Matthew 8, Luke 9, Revelation 3.
Grace and peace.