3 delays to following the plan of God
By Kyle Patterson
When Jesus was ministering throughout Israel, he encountered all kinds of people. People in need, hurting people, desperate people, the blind, the lame, the weak, the broken. He met the rich, the religious, and the rule keepers. He met prostitutes, tax-collectors, and hung out with 'sinners'. He ultimately made time for everyone. But in one particular situation he encountered three people who made excuses for why they couldn’t follow the plan of God for their lives. They made excuses as to why now was not the right time to make the commitment to Christ. Take a look,
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62
Here Jesus deals with three obstacles to following him that can serve as stumbling blocks to the plan and purpose of God.
Christ’s first encounter is with a man eager to follow him. The man comes to Jesus stating his strong commitment to Christ and that he is willing to follow him wherever he goes. Christ immediately speaks to the heart of the matter by weighing his motives and testing him. He basically says, “I don’t even have a home, so know upfront, this is not for the faint of heart. Don’t come to me for what I can do for you, you're entering the service of the Lord and earthly comforts and privilege are not what we are after. We are about joyfully, lovingly spreading the good news." In this example we see Christ confront the idol of comfort. Following Jesus is not about your comfort. Jesus deals with this by explaining he didn’t even have a place to lay his head. When God calls you, it’s never about your comfort, but about his mission. How many times though do we shrink back because what he asks us to do challenges us and makes us feel uncomfortable? He doesn’t promise material prosperity, but he does promise eternal joy and his presence that would never leave us. Paul himself attested to this in his epistles stating his situation,
2) Family Commitments
In our second situation, Christ calls a man to follow him, but the man answers with a commitment to his family that he needs to attend to. Even this seemingly good thing, to care for extended family, can get in the way of what God is calling you to do. Jesus warned us that a prophet is not without honor, except in his own home town. He also stated that many times a man’s enemies will come from within his own home town. Again he said that we are not to love mother, father, son, daughter more than the Lord. In fact he went so far as to say in comparison to our love for God, we hate mother, father, son, daughter.
Obviously this calls for a disclaimer because the a Bible is clear regarding the need to care for family. The important thing is it doesn't have to be done at the expense of disobedience to the call of God.
Christ was confronting this stumbling block because when it comes to following God and obeying his call, extended family will oftentimes be the first ones to resist. Many times for positive, seemingly loving reasons. It’s dangerous. It’s unsafe. It is not secure. You won’t make money on the mission field. How will you support a family? We won’t ever see you. But Christ still bids us to follow.
3) Looking back/Cost/Loss
The third call goes out but again there is a life to leave and a price to pay. But oh, there is a kingdom to gain in time. It's not instant, but for all eternity we will gain it. There is sin to leave behind and a new life of discipleship to take up. Jesus Christ is not something to add to an existing life, but a whole new way of life. Generally Americans like to live a life of balance. Family, exercise, career, recreation, etc. We tend to compartmentalize our lives. Adding a little Jesus makes us the perfect citizens and Americans, we theorize. But Jesus is not to be added to an existing life. He is a whole new way of life. He is a commitment that trumps every other and demands total loyalty above any other. We often look back and worry about what we will lose following Christ, rather than seeing the eternal riches and glory of Christ and gaining him for all eternity. The trade off is not even worth comparing. As Paul wrote,
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ...Philippians 3:8
So what’s holding you back from following Jesus today. Is it comfort? Is it family? Are you afraid of what you’ll lose?
He doesn’t promise it will be easy. He didn’t say your extended family will support you, or that giving up your life will not tempt you to look back, but gaining intimacy with God and knowing him is worth it all.