It is easy to follow Jesus when we agree with what he says.
I feel more inclined to give when I have extra money in the bank, but it is a little harder to be generous when I am worried about paying the bills.
I am okay with loving people people who are like me, but it is more difficult to love someone who thinks and acts differently than I do.
I love to preach about risk taking and stepping out of our comfort zone, but it is next to impossible to get me to do something that I am not comfortable with doing.
A true follower of Jesus doesn't get to pick and choose what commandments or teachings he is going to obey. A disciple of Jesus spends his life trying to be like Jesus in every way he possibly can.
To be a Christ Follower means that we have submitted our entire lives to the will and teaching of Jesus.
To actually follow Jesus moves us beyond agreeing with the teachings of Jesus to actually changing the way we live based on who Jesus is and what he taught.
Faith is not demonstrated merely when we do those things that we agree with God are right to do, but doing those things God has called us to do that are difficult and uncomfortable.
This is the type of life that teaches us to trust God more than we trust ourselves.
57 As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, "I will follow you wherever you go."
58 But Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head."
59 He said to another person, "Come, follow me."
The man agreed, but he said, "Lord, first let me return home and bury my father."
60 But Jesus told him, "Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead!* Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God."
61 Another said, "Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family."
62 But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God."
Luke 9:57-62; NLT
Each of these men had an excuse why they couldn't follow Jesus right a way.
They believed in Jesus, they apparently agreed with his teaching, but what he asked them to do conflicted with what they wanted to do.
Our faith is developed when we put aside those things we want to do and change long held beliefs so we can surrender to the will and teaching of Jesus.
There were many people who wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus reminded them what was expected of them.
To truly be a disciple of Jesus wasn't just about following Jesus around the countryside, witnessing miracles, listening to his teachings, and being part of a spiritual group.
To truly follow Jesus meant to give up everything and do God's will. This is what separates the followers of Jesus from the fans of Jesus. It is the difference between merely believing and having true faith.
To really have faith in Jesus means that we do the things that don't make sense to us. Things that are difficult.
Perhaps we give up our well paying job and enter the paid ministry.
Perhaps we pick up our family and move to a different country to be missionaries.
Perhaps we decide to give a little more money even though it will stretch the budget.
Perhaps we choose to quit just sitting in the pew and find a way to volunteer in order to use the talents God has given us.
Following Jesus isn't about our safety and dreams, but rather it is about doing God's will.
When we learn to trust Jesus, even when we don't understand the reasons why or don't agree with the direction God is asking us to go, that is when our faith is able to mature and deepen.
Following Jesus is about learning to trust God more than we trust ourselves.
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