Saturday, 13 June 2009

Counting the cost to be fit for service

Last Sunday at our twice a month central gathering we were looking at 3 of Jesus' encounters with people:

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you
wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have
nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." He said to another
man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
Luke 9:57-62
I noted 3 challenges for us as followers:

1) Comfort - the guy who tells Jesus he will follow him and maybe expects congratulation and affirmation only to be probably surprised or even shocked by Jesus telling him that his way of life is one where he gets nowhere to lay his head. It is not a comfortable way.

2) Convenience - this guy seems to have a pretty good reason not to respond immediately to Jesus calling him to follow. Jesus' reply challenges the way in which we seem to find all sorts of plausible excuses not to put following Jesus first in our lives. We fit Jesus into our diaries and calendars forgetting that we wil live better by submitting them first to him.

3) Distraction - "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me..." - how many times do we function by the word 'but'? Too much. It isn't wrong for someone to want to say goodbye - it just isn't great to be distracted - there are always things that could distract us - I am writing this with lots of commotion of our family-life around me and am having to concentrate hard so as not to lose the thread of my thoughts. It is so easy to find an excuse for not following NOW. As Jesus points out, if we were ploughing and kept looking back the furrow we have created will be next to useless for sowing and harvesting. So often we look at other things, we look back and find ourselves moving in the wrong direction. We are therefore not fit for kingdom purposes.

As we continue to develop mission shaped communities we will find that there are times when we have to tackle these kinds of things in ourselves - are we ready to count the cost?

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