Wednesday, January 14, 2015

You Mean I Can't Do Both?

I shared this with my teens lately. Make no mistake about it. Teaching on the hard sayings of Jesus means grappling with those hard sayings myself. 

As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
He said to another person, “Come, follow me.”
The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”
But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”
Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”
But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
 ~Luke 9:57-62
It is interesting to me how we respond to the words of Jesus. I think Christians like to say Jesus was a wild man who said audacious things to people. But when asked to interpret what He said, we often look to soften it up.

So we have to look at these conversations and figure out what was being said.

First, look at the previous conversation. A guy comes up to Jesus and tells Him he is willing to follow Jesus where He goes. What is Jesus’ response? It appears like Jesus tries to talk the guy out of it. “Yeah, well….think it through…there’s no posh hotel stays where I’m headed. No pillows with mints on them.”

Now we have this second conversation where Jesus invites a guy to follow Him. The guy asks to first bury his father. This seems like a reasonable request. As one who has buried his dad, I have to tell you there was no other place I would have been at that moment. But maybe I should have?

There’s two ways to interpret what this guy said. Either his dad had just died and he was asking Jesus for a few days to bury his dad. Or he may have been saying he wanted to stay at home until his aging father passed away. Then he would be able to turn his focus from family to other things. So we have these two options, one which makes Jesus sound like less of a jerk. “Oh, your dad just died? Suck it up and come with me!”

I know we live in a culture that tries so hard to do everything and be everywhere. We see friends who try to be a part of every club, while playing 3 sports each season. I’ve had teens ask me to change youth trips to accommodate their sports schedule. Americans want to be able to eat anything while still being healthy, go to college from home, be able to say anything they want on FB while still having hundreds of friends. We like Spotify so we can listen to anything at anytime. We shop for high quality while desiring low prices. We eat at buffets so we can get a taste of everything without having to order just one entrĂ©e.

What if Jesus, despite our sensitive sensibilities is asking us just to make one difficult decision? What if, despite our best efforts to please everybody and experience everything, we’re being asked to make a choice?

You can choose to focus on this matter of your personal life. Or you can choose to follow Jesus.

Go ahead. Choose.

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