The Inconvenient Commitment of Following Christ
Jesus makes some attractive offers to those who will believe in Him. He offers to forgive their sins, answer their prayers, and give them eternal life.
From a life-management standpoint, Christianity has a lot of upside. The Bible shows us ways to have a more loving marriage, financial stability, and deliverance from personal vices and addictions.
The church is a compelling community of loving people that can become as close as family.
With these considerations, one would think that church attendance would be booming.
But it isn't.
Church attendance is declining in every conceivable way. Why? There are lots of studies and various reasons, so take your pick.
Long before the studies, Jesus predicted this downward trend. In fact, Jesus experienced it. In John 6, Jesus begins with a massive crowd, but the more he talks, the more people walk away. Jesus' sermon dwindled the multitude down to twelve. It got so awkward that he turned to his own disciples and asked them, "Do you want to go away as well (John 6:67)?"
Jesus' offer of eternal life still stands. Biblical standards do lead to a better life. The church remains a compelling community. So what's the problem? Commitment to Christ comes at a great cost.
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.Luke 14:33
The Changes are Challenging (Luke 14:25-27)
Many people want the benefit of God's promises without the commitment of God's commands. But the more one follows Christ, the more he realizes that Christian commitment is inconvenient.
Christ calls for changes in our lifestyle. These changes can cause relational tension (14:25-26). The ones we love the most may respect those changes the least.
And then there's the challenge of the cross. As if the external pressures of others were not enough, then comes the personal challenges of change (14:27). And it is at this crucifixion of self that many walk away. They realize that Christ does not just call for us to attend church; he calls for us to change.
Not Continuing Comes at Greater Cost (Luke 14:28-35)
Jesus offers three illustrations of the cost of turning back. The first is of those who don't finish. It is an embarrassing end (28-30). The second warns us of the eternal loss of failing to follow the conquering king (31-33). The third is of a weak faith that is as worthless as savorless salt (34-35).
Christian commitment is inconvenient, but one must consider the cost of not following through. For those who fail to follow Christ, this life is all the Heaven they are ever going to have. But for those who follow Christ no matter the cost, this life is as close to Hell as they will ever get.
Are we failing to go to church, or are we failing to follow through? If you are conflicted on a Sunday, where are you when confronted with a cross? Christianity is not about convenience; it's about commitment.
Read Luke 14:25-35.
- List the commands to be obeyed.
- List the promises to be believed (both positive and negative).
- What does this passage teach us about discipleship?
Make a list of your weekly disciplines that express your commitment to Christ. Where are those things in the priorities of your life? If there is something "else" going on, are those disciplines easily neglected? What are some things that need to move down your list of priorities that distract you from following Christ?