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Friday, May 31, 2013

Heart to Heart

Luke 9
            We have all seen and known people who become emotionally attracted to a project, human need, or cause and then not follow through on the commitment they made to the cause. We find this circumstance throughout life and it is not limited to any one age group. We also see this occur in religious organizations. Each week, people walk forward to commit themselves to give money or pray or they commit their lives to Christ. We see people from all walks of life get attracted to these and other things because of an emotional pull. We have also seen people not follow-through on their commitment.  Jesus encountered people like this, too. 

            In Luke 9, Jesus empowered the disciples to go out and heal people and to cast out demons.  He fed 5000 people.  He met with Moses and Elijah at His transfiguration.  He also dealt with two brothers, coaxed by their mother, who were seeking the seats of honor by Him.  Finally, He encountered three men who, upon seeing all that Jesus was doing and hearing all He was saying, decide they wanted to be followers/disciples of His.  Jesus knows all men’s hearts; He knew the hearts of these three men.  

            Jesus’ confrontation with the first two men involved Him explaining to one man that being His follower meant that he did not have a home or human comforts he could call his own. To the second man, Jesus explained that being a follower meant that he had to give everything to Him. He had to love Jesus more than his mother, father, sister, or brother. Both of these men changed their minds about being His disciple when their emotions were faced with the fact that following Jesus came first. 

            The third encounter Jesus had was with a man who decided he wanted to follow Him but did not seem determined and was distracted in his mind and heart. The third man went to Jesus and told Him he would follow Him, but He first needed to go home and tell his friends and family goodbye.  Jesus countered Him by saying that once a person begins to plow, he does not look back to what he is leaving behind or else he is not fit for God’s kingdom. Several commentators compare this to exactly the person Jesus does, a plowman or farmer. If a farmer is busy looking behind him to see if he is doing his work right, he will not be plowing a straight furrow; he will be going astray of his goals. Jesus seemed to be saying that once you make the decision to follow Him, if you take your eyes off of Him, you are distracted and your walk will not be straight. You will begin to falter in your walk and possibly in your faith. A person who is not totally dedicated to the purpose of Jesus, is not doing proper work for God’s kingdom. The person service to the Father and Son becomes worthless.  

There are times in life where, after we have given our lives to Christ, we get caught up in the affairs of our families, friends, or the world. We become susceptible to influences from society by not staying 100% focused on God. Gradually, this little change of focus becomes bigger until eventually, our eyes are not focused on the path that God has set before us. We become swayed to consider another life than that which God has called us. Maybe this life would be one of more financial ease. It could also be a life where we are considered more highly and are more popular. It is so easy to lose our focus when we begin to consider other things. It is a gradual occurrence and, before you know it, you have stopped looking to God to guide you. Sometimes it may seem easier if you were closer to family so that you could take care of aging parents. That seems like a worthy cause for a person to spend a few years, to take care of parents. It could also be that your children are starting college or beginning their careers and they are not located near you, so you want to move closer to them. Unless these things worthy of consideration are God’s purpose for your life at the time, they are some of those things that make you look away and cause your farming to be in vain.   

            Jesus calls all people to come to Him. He even calls some to be close disciples and follow Him to another place in the world. He might just be calling his close disciple to change his or her vocation. Unless we are determined to be absolute followers of Christ and willing to change vocations and locations for His purposes, we are not determined to give our whole selves for His service. We then are like these three men who had to bury a parent, see how his planting was going, or live knowing where he would sleep and eat. We must determine if we are wholly willing to follow Christ no matter what occurs, where we will be, or with what we will live. Christ does not ask all of us to give up everything to follow Him. He does ask that we be willing to give up everything to follow Him. If we cannot even make this statement that we are willing to give up everything, then what we do in our lives will not testify to the glory of God or preach the Gospel. We must be willing to commit 100%. God can then use us for His kingdom purpose; otherwise, our lives become a distraction to those who are watching. Are you willing to give up everything so that the world can know God’s salvation through His Son, Jesus?