Today’s message is based on the study, Radical by David Platt.
What does it mean to REALLY follow Jesus? I have felt that we might be missing something as a church and as His followers. There seems to be something missing as we casually follow Him. What would it mean to have our lives so given over to Jesus that we give Him control over everything? What does it look like to be that kind of follower? Do you really want to go there?
We should start with what Jesus told those who wanted to follow Him. Be prepared because Jesus didn’t have the same terms of becoming a disciple that we do. We often want to do things our way…we just want Jesus involved in what we are doing. Let’s look at what it means to follow Jesus on His terms.
This is one of those parts of scripture that we look at…we think about…and we move on. We don’t really look at what it means to follow Jesus like this. This kind of following is serious. This kind of following requires more devotion than we normally want to give. This kind of discipleship isn’t comfortable to discuss…so we move on to something much easier…something that fits us better.
Today, we are going to look at what it means to follow Jesus on His terms. What did He ask of those who wanted to follow Him and what does He ask of us?
First, Jesus requires superior love.
What does that mean? We get a glimpse of superior love here…except we can get confused. How is it that we can love our brothers and sisters…we can respect our parents…love our children more than words can express…and yet hate them at the same time?
In order to begin to look at what this means, let’s look at a couple of other scriptures along these same lines. Matthew 22:36-40
This is a verse that we talk about often. We memorize this verse. We love the idea of the verse…but rarely do we put this into practice. Rarely do we find someone who is so in love with God that they love Him with all that they are. But, Jesus is telling us that this is what is means to follow.
What does a life like that God is your all in all? What does a life look like where we are completely and totally given over to God? What does it look like to love God so much that our decisions and our very steps are led by God?
If we can get a glimpse of that kind of love…a love where God is everything…a love where God isn’t first – He is all there is. If we can begin to open our eyes to the kind of love that He is calling us to…this superior love, then the verses in Matthew begin to make more sense.
Loving God should be your everything. If we love God with our everything, then the love for the things of this world looks like hate in comparison. If our love for God is supreme…it drives our lives…it leads and guides who we are. If our love for God is supreme, it determines what we do every day.
Many of us aren’t willing to love God that much. We are willing to give Him a little time on Sunday maybe…we are willing to call on Him when we need Him…we might even read the Bible if we have a few extra minutes. But, following like that isn’t following the way that Jesus has called us to follow.
Jesus doesn’t call us into a casual relationship with Him. He is asking us to have a superior love for Him. He is asking us to love Him with all that we are. We can’t give Him our leftovers. We must give Him our everything. Do you want to follow Jesus?
Second, Jesus requires exclusive loyalty.
If we really want to follow Jesus, we will give Him our entire lives. Jesus asks us to take up our cross and follow Him. What did it mean to take up a cross in Jesus time?
Think about it. When did Jesus carry a cross? He carried a cross when He was going through town on His way to be crucified. People didn’t carry around their crosses casually. They didn’t carry them around as an accessory. It wasn’t something pretty that they would do just so people could identify them. The cross was a way of execution. It was carried when you were on your way to be killed.
Why would Jesus ask us to take up our cross and follow Him? In order to follow Jesus, we have to be willing to give up our entire lives…everything…and follow Him. Let Him be in charge of our lives…our families…our actions…our thoughts…let Him be in control. That kind of authority we don’t give easily.
The only way we do that is to die to self and alive to Christ. That isn’t the kind of following that we are accustomed to. We don’t often think about what it means to follow Christ with everything. We talk about it…but we don’t often do it.
This isn’t your casual following. Being a disciple…a follower isn’t something you take lightly. This isn’t something that Jesus said you just do.
If you look at scripture, you will see that people weren’t flocking to be His followers. You will see where people started following and then walked away. If it was easy and fun and a walk in the park, everyone would have followed. But, it was difficult and dangerous and a big decision.
What kind of follower am I? Am I ready to give Him superior love and exclusive loyalty?