4/20/16: Are You Really a Follower?
My husband is a true Lakers fan. He rooted for the Lakers when they were winning championships, and he still pulls for them to win although they’ve been having some tough years. He watches the games, knows the players and their stats, follows their careers, and coaches from his easy chair. His sister even gave him a purple and gold blanket for Christmas, knowing he’d appreciate something in Lakers colors. He may watch other teams play against each other, but he forsakes those other teams when they are playing the Lakers.
Luke 14:33 quotes Jesus telling us, “…whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (NKJ). In much the same way as my husband stops rooting for the other team when the Lakers are in the game, God expects us to forsake – which literally means “to say adieu by departing or dismissing, to renounce, bid farewell, and send away – all that is contrary to Him when we become His followers.
Now when we think of forsaking all, most of us probably think of monetary things, but forsaking all is much more than that. In the verses preceding the one above, Jesus makes it very clear that He is also talking about forsaking our own attitudes, personal beliefs, and even the way we were brought up if any of those things contradict what He has to say. Jesus says, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” Luke 14:26-27 (NKJ).
Is Jesus advocating that we break up our families in order to follow Him? Obviously not. That would be against everything else God teaches. What Jesus is saying, though, is that even our closest relatives and what they think must take a back seat to our relationship and commitment to Him. So, if my mother taught me that God helps those who help themselves (which isn’t in the Bible by the way) and I find out that God’s word teaches me that God helps those who rely on Him, it is incumbent upon me to stop believing what Momma told me and start believing and acting on what God told me.
We are not followers of Jesus because we signed up to be a member of a church. We’re not followers of Jesus because we read the Bible and pray. We’re followers of Jesus because we live out what He has said. Our beliefs about things must be His beliefs about things. Our attitudes toward things must be His attitudes toward things. For example, we study what God says about tithing, understanding what each word actually means, and then we change the way we do things with our money. We study what God says about loving our neighbor, and then we change the way we respond to our neighbor. What we’ve heard and believed all our lives does not matter at all. When placed beside whatever God has to say about the issue, we must take the stand Paul takes in Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (NIV).
In Mark 8:34, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (NIV). The Greek word for “follow” used here means, “to be in the same way with.” Let’s check ourselves today. Are we “in the same way with” Jesus on every issue, in every thought, and in every belief we hold? If we are true followers, we’ll want to be sure that we line up with Him in every possible regard. And if we’re true followers, are our views are contrary to His, we’ll then gladly make a change.
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