“Have you ever come to Jesus on His terms?”
That is the question asked by David Platt in his sermon series, Radical. (After listening to several of these sermons, I decided to get the book by the same name.) The first step to coming to Jesus on His own terms is to know what His terms are.
What does Jesus say about following Him?
Mark 10:21: “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Luke 9:23-24: And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
Later in Luke 9, those who express interest in following Jesus are told to expect to be homeless like Christ, not to take the time to bury their father, and not to say good-bye to their families or finish up work at home.
Luke 14:26-27, 33: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple . . . So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
I think in our Christian culture, we are desensitized to the shocking nature of Jesus talking about taking up our cross. Put yourself in the shoes of those who heard Christ say these words before His death. The cross was an instrument of torture and death. Christ was telling those who wanted to follow Him that they should be prepared to be tortured and killed. Not exactly seeker-sensitive.
Platt writes: “Give up everything you have, carry a cross, and hate your family. This sounds a lot different than ‘Admit, believe, confess, and pray a prayer after me.’ . . . Ultimately, Jesus was calling them to abandon themselves . . . In a world that prizes promoting oneself, they were following a teacher who told them to crucify themselves. And history tells us the result. Almost all of them would lose their lives because they responded to this invitation.” (p. 11-12)
I agree with Platt’s assertion that modern-day American Christianity has watered down the true cost of following Christ. These passages from Mark and Luke make us squirm, and we would rather think that Jesus didn’t really mean what He said. But this rationalization is dangerous, as Platt writes:
“Because we are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class, American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have.” (p. 13, emphasis mine)
Let’s be honest. My struggle with materialism is well-documented on this blog. And I’m guessing I’m not the only one who would like Jesus to be okay with just a little bit of materialism. This is America, after all. But as we, as the wealthiest people on this planet, mold Jesus to fit our desires, we are falling very short of the calling the real Jesus gave His followers. Billions are dying apart from Christ. Thousands of children die every day from starvation and preventable disease.
Do we love Jesus enough to follow Him on His terms? Do we care enough about the lost and the poor to obey Christ’s commands to forsake earthly treasure for eternal reward? Are we willing to give our lives in radical faith to Jesus who gave everything for us?Share