“As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God'” (Luke 9:57-62).
Three men are pictured here. Three men are asked to follow Christ — but all three have reservations that will hold them back from following. These three are hindered by the same things that hinder us from following God and obeying His will for our lives.
The first man is too impulsive. He quickly offers to follow, but he has no idea what that “following” entails. He is sincere in his willingness, but he does not know what will be expected of him. This is the type of person who enthusiastically starts something – only to realize later how much work is involved and how difficult it is – and quickly gives it up at that realization. This is the type of person who will jump at any opportunity to get involved at church or in missions projects – but his interest will wane as he faces insurmountable hurdles in his task.
Christ wants us to volunteer to serve Him – but He wants us to be intelligent about it. Just as a soldier must be prepared for what lies ahead of him in battle, we as disciples must be prepared for the hard road ahead of us, if we choose to follow wholeheartedly. Nowhere in His messages does Christ hide the fact that to be His disciple will be to suffer with Him. And if He suffered to the extent of death on the cross and separation from His Father, how can we expect to suffer any less? He wants us to volunteer, but He wants us to realize what is involved in volunteering, lest we fall by the wayside and become stagnant in our walk with Him.
The second man has counted the cost – but he is too reluctant. He hesitates to give up his family ties and his responsibilities in the world’s eyes. He is too slow to follow, where the first man is too quick. He would follow God’s leading if only it was convenient for him, if it allowed him to still keep the comforts of home and family around him. He loved his life as it was more than as it should have been with Christ, and thus was hindered from being a true disciple: “if anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).
This is the type of believer who does not see the urgency in following Christ. He wants to take care of his family first, or his own financial needs, and thus he puts off obeying God’s leading until it suits his own timing. He sees no urgency in the need to obey in God’s timing. How different was the apostle Paul, who states, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7).
The third man is also willing to follow, but is too double-minded. He wants to consider his options, to see what his family wants him to do, before he commits fully. He is half-hearted in his desire to follow Christ – his heart does not fully belong to Christ; he is distracted by natural affections for home and family. He may see the urgency and may know the cost, but won’t ever really be ready to commit; he will always have some excuse why he can’t go “right now” or why he can’t serve “today.”
This is the believer who knows what is expected of him, who sees the need, but keeps putting off doing anything about it. He is too easily swayed by the influences of his friends or the world around him – he lacks the courage to choose the difficulty of our Saviour’s life over the tempting ease of the unbeliever’s life. Like Lot’s wife, if he does try to step out and follow, he will keep looking back until it destroys him.
Lack of knowledge, lack of urgency, and lack of commitment – all three are great problems in our churches today.
Not many believers are truly “on call” for Christ – ready to serve when He asks, prepared for the difficulties that may lie ahead, and willing to give up the comforts of their lives to continue through those trials.
Are you ready? Do you know what will be expected of you, that you will have to “take up your cross” as you follow Christ? Do you see the urgency, that obedience to Christ must happen right away, as soon as He calls? Do you have the courage to commit fully to serving Him without turning back to gaze upon your former ease and comfort?
Are you “on call” for Christ?