Thank God for yesterday’s sermon—it was a good ole’ Southern Baptist, high-spirit-movin’, “Is he talking directly to ME?!” conviction on me that even my Pastor in Detroit would call an “ouch” message! It all came about from a message I’ll simply refer to as The Cost of Following Jesus.
Better known as Luke 9:57-62.
With emphasis on verses 59-61. And a punch to the ornery gut with verse 62. (No synopsis here, folks; you know the drill–READ His word and then come back to the blog! I’ll wait…)
While reading this, I did not fully understand what was being said in verses 61 and 62. The pastor, however, encouraged us to take a moment to re-read and focus on the word “but.” That conjunction packs such a quick punch because we use it to immediately contrast something. How can we put conditions on following the Lord, and accepting Jesus as our Savior, when we have our “but” in the way? You know the kind of things we say…
“I’ll commit to going to church more, but I need to get my schedule in order.”
“I’ll follow You but I have to get my life together first.”
“I’ll give more to the church, but I gotta first get my debt down.”
Or, in my case: I’ll commit to Your calling on my life but I first have to get back to working more consistently, sort out my marriage, figure out how I’ll pay to finish this Biblical Studies degree and lose a couple pounds. (Yes, I said it. And don’t be shocked, it’s all being left at the throne.)
Some seeds we’re planting, eh? When you remember that we reap exactly what we sow, well…that just makes the aforementioned appear even worse.
If we are plowing—committing ourselves to whatever it is He calls us to do—and planting seeds of faith, hope, love and charity, our circumstances have no choice but to evolve for the better. We move from space to space, lane to lane, plowing ourselves further and further from whatever it is we’re adversely experiencing and reaping the harvest in the process. When we decide to plant seeds of narcissism, vengeance, anger and a host of other eat-you-alive no-no’s; and have the audacity to look back over what we plowed through and expect a different outcome, that is when we show ourselves unfit “for service in the kingdom of God” (v62).
Stop it. Stop it, right now! We have the capacity for so much more and it is expected of us. It’s time to align ourselves with the way God made us: friends, he put the “but” behind us for a reason!
My most difficult course as a Biblical scholar, thus far, was Hermeneutics; and in that course, I was called to commit to my first exegesis on a particular chapter of Luke. The irony is not lost on me that a Gospel that I truly enjoy carried the message I needed to hear right now, within the folds of a chapter that happens to be my favorite number.
God and His sense of humor.