Monday, September 19, 2016

Lining Up

“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘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.  And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?  For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, “This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.”

‘Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.  In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.’” (Luke 14:25-33 NIV)

Locally, they were lining up this past weekend.  The Miami Hurricanes came to our small town to play our Mountaineers.  Anticipation had been building for weeks.  On Friday night, students started camping out in hopes of getting the best seats possible.  And on Saturday morning, the line grew exponentially.  It was the same at Apple and phone stores across the country as the new iPhone 7 was released.  People lined up and waited for hours for the opportunity to purchase the latest version of the iconic phone.

When people really want something, they’ll line up for it—either out of excitement or desperation.  In our country, for the most part it is the former.  We line up for big games, concerts, and giveaways.  In other parts of the world, it’s often out of desperation.  People in Venezuela line up for food and other necessities because of countrywide shortages.  Refugees line up for food, medical care, and for passage to another country.

Seeing people line up this weekend led me to thinking about the challenges of getting people to sacrifice to line up for Jesus.  There are always lots of excuses.  I’m too busy.  I have too much homework.  My first priority is my family.  And the list can go on and on.  The reality, however, is we always make time for that which is truly important to us, or for which we have a desperate need.

In His teaching to the crowd of followers, those who found Jesus intriguing and interesting, He lays out what is needed to follow Him. Unlike what we are often led to believe today, it is not emotional excitement, but rather thoughtful intent.  Much of our society is moved by emotion.  That is why games, phones, concerts are so hyped.  The consensus is the sellers and advertisers must create a buzz.  “Big,” “must-see,” “event of the year,” “best ever,” are just some of the adjectives used to get us excited.  

But what is exciting about picking up a cross and giving up everything to follow Jesus?  There is little immediate satisfaction in that!  And that is why I think it is so hard for many to truly follow Jesus.  What it requires is intent born out of desperation.  I need a Savior because I am hopelessly lost.  As long as we have to be motivated by excitement, we will struggle to follow Jesus where He wants to lead us.  

And if you doubt that, then think about how easy it is for people to get excited and sacrifice to stand in line for a mere game, an electronic device, or to hear some band, but can’t really get excited enough to sacrifice time and effort for the King of kings and Lord of lords.  It’s not wrong to get excited about different things.  The problem lies with allowing our lives to be directed solely by emotion.  Jesus will always be on the short end of that one.

Today, what motivates you to live for Jesus?  Is it emotional excitement?  Do you have to get “fired up” for Jesus to do much for Him?  If so, then recognize it will never be enough because following Jesus has always been more about intent and need rather than levels of excitement.  Lining up to follow Jesus is a rational decision of one who knows his deep need and recognizes He is the only One who can meet it.    

© Jim Musser 2016

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