Not A Fan
This year we have been looking at the idea of being a follower of Christ instead of just a fan. I believe this is important for Park Central because there are so many people in our cities and community that have a distorted view of what it means to be a disciple. If the latest polls are correct, most Americans claim to be Christians, but few claim to go to church. Most Americans claim to be Christians, but few claim to spend time in prayer and the study of God’s Word. Many people claim to be a Christian, but very few are willing to become a follower.
The sad truth is that churches all around the world are filled with people sitting in pews who refuse to surrender everything to Jesus, and they are trying to live in two different worlds. They have enough of the world in them to make them a miserable christian and enough of Christ in them to fill them with guilt. The Scriptures are very clear that every person who claims to be a Child of God must be completely and totally devoted to the Lord.
Over the past few weeks we have talked about the call of Christ to give it all, or give nothing. We were created for so much more than to be familiar with who our Messiah is; God demands our dedication and surrender. His call is for us to take our faith seriously, there is no room for fans, Christ desires followers.
I run into people all the time who have no idea what it means to be a follower of Christ. While they may claim to wear His name, they may have a fish on the back of their car, and may sit in a pew on Sunday mornings, they try to live on their terms and not His. They do not truly comprehend the biblical definition of discipleship. In our text this morning, Jesus makes it very clear what it means to be a follower of His. Look with me at Luke 14:25-33 (Read Text)
As Christ makes His way to Jerusalem the crowds are gathering around to hear the teachings of this young influential rabbi. He has already taught such amazing lesson, blessed are the peacemakers, love your neighbors, do unto others, love God. You can sense the excitement as the crowd presses in to hear the next great insight that would come; but the words the crowd hears on this day were unlike any others they had ever heard. If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
That must have floored them, did the one who spoke so eloquently about love change His mind. Did He really go from love your enemies, to hate your mother. Love those you barely know, and hate those you know best? It was unnerving. I mean He’s not discussing something that’s relatively insignificant or trivial. He’s not talking about in-laws, He’s talking about flesh and blood, He’s talking about, I carried you for nine months, my feet swelled to the size of bedroom slippers, and I was in heavy labor for a week and a half. Is that who I am called to hate?
Before we go any farther this morning we need to understand that To be a disciple of Jesus you must be committed to Him above everything else.
We are content to divide Christians into a couple of different categories. We have the nominal Christians, who show up on Christmas and Easter. Then there are your semi-committed Christians, folks who are just your average, everyday Christian, then there are the followers, the super saints who are committed to pray more, give more, and are more disciplined.
The problem with this theory is that you can’t find those categories in the Bible. Jesus says if you are a part time Christian, then you have deceived yourself and you are at best a fan. If you claim to wear His name then you are claiming to be a follower, and Jesus says that true followers must give up everything to follow where He leads. I don’t know how to twist that to say something else, It’s pretty clear when Jesus says, no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me.
I’m not real sure how well that sat with the large crowds that were following Jesus that day. I’m sure that many of these people who were traveling with the Jesus, had a like for Jesus, They wanted to hear what He had to say, and if you asked them they would have told you that they were followers of His, but in reality they were only casual fans and not committed followers.
They were willing and even anxious to follow Jesus providing the cost was not to high or the demands too great. They were willing to go to church, pray, sing, put some money in the collection plate, but don’t ask for too much. They wanted Jesus to solve their money problems, relationship problems, health problems; but they probably got disillusioned when following Jesus didn’t make everything gumdrops and lollipops. This large crowd was filled with casual fans and not committed followers.
Next we need to understand this morning that To be a disciple of Jesus you must be committed to Him above everything else.
Let’s go back to verse 26, but this time I want to read it out of the New Living Translation: If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.
Christ was not looking for affection as much as He was looking for loyalty, to whom do we owe our primary allegiance, to our family or to Christ? The premise is laid down in Matthew 6:24: No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. A disciple cannot serve God and his job, or God and his family, or God and himself. If God is not in first place then God is in the wrong place.
Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that we neglect our family or our friends; it means that God has to take first place in our life. I understand that your job is a priority, and your friendships are a priority, and your family is a priority but they are not THE priority. As you draw closer to God, and become more Christ like then you become a better father, or mother, a better husband or wife, a better employee or employer, and a better friend. Christ rewards faithfulness but it is up to you to be faithful.
Followers are called to be faithful with everything that God gives them. Our family, our friends, our job our health, our money, our talents, everything we have, was given to us by God and all He asks in return is that we make Him our first priority, and give Him our best.
This about it this way, what would you do if you learned that Jesus was going to come to your house for dinner next Thursday night? Would you cancel your other plans? Would you worry about how the house looked, what you were going to serve? Would you break out the good china and use real napkins instead of paper towels. Or would you opt for paper plates and spam?
I know at my house we would try to outdo ourselves, I’m sure that Filet Mignon with all of the sides would be on the menu, followed with Red Velvet Cake for dessert. I doubt anyone would question the cost or extravagance of the meal. But honestly, when I am asked to live my life for Him, there are times when I would rather keep the Filet for myself and serve God Spam. Have you ever looked at what’s in this stuff? Half of the stuff I can’t pronounce and the other things, like pig lips, I don’t want to.
We serve God spam when we offer Him our left over money, time, and talents. We are willing to give God the filler, the worst part of what we have, that is provided we don’t need it. Does that sound like So no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me?
Now I understand that it’s not easy to tithe, and it’s not easy to give God precious time out of a day that’s already too short. The great part is that God knows that as well, but He never said that it was going to be easy. You see Christianity was never intended to be a cake walk.
Do you really believe that Christ came to this earth, lived for thirty three years, suffered horrible torture, and died on a cross so we could come to church Sunday morning, throw a five dollar bill in the plate and squeak into heaven when we die. That level of commitment wasn’t what He expected two thousand years ago and it’s not what He expects today.
If we are going to be the type of Christian that Christ wants us to be it will have to effect our entire life. It isn’t just supposed to affect our behavior on Sunday morning it is supposed to have a direct, dramatic impact on our entire life, Monday through Sunday, day in and day out, 24 hours a day; it is supposed to be a life changing experience.
The question that each one of us needs to ask is, what does God expect of me? Because it doesn’t matter whether you live up to my expectations, and it really isn’t important whether you live up to the expectations of this church. All that matters is how you measure up in God’s eyes. Your entire life needs to be lived asking the question “what does God want of me?”
Thirdly this morning we need to understand that To be a disciple of Jesus you must be committed to Him above everything else.
In our hearts Jesus must come before our loved ones, self-interest, possessions, careers, hobbies, goals in life, and even our very lives. And this commitment to Jesus is tested daily. In verse 26 Jesus says that this commitment level applies to anyone who comes to me. Jesus is not talking to a special group of Christians like elders, preachers, or even mature believers. He is calling everyone who would be one of His followers.
Following Jesus will interfere with your closest relationships, this is not some hypothetical situation. I believe that in the states we have it to easy, and that has hurt the church. There are places in this world where following Jesus means losing everything. The first person I ever baptized was a young man named Elio Cho, in Belize. We were at the river watching someone put on Christ when Elio jumped in the water, saying he was ready to give his life to Christ. While that may not sound fantastic, what we learned later was that Elio’s family disowned him, because of his decision. He told his family he wanted to follow Jesus and at that moment to his family he died. In the face of losing everything, Elio was willing to give his life to the Messiah that first gave His life for him.
Jesus must come before our closest relationships, personal desires, goals, interests, and even needs. Following Christ comes before our bank accounts, public image, and jobs. If following Jesus means forfeiting these things, then we must be willing to do that. Again this is not a hypothetical situation. Following Jesus will many times mean making such sacrifices.
Finally this morning we need to know that To be a disciple of Jesus you must be committed to Him above everything else
Jesus says in verses 28-33, that we must count the cost of being His follower. In His two illustrations, Jesus is expressing one simple point, we must consider the cost and commitment necessary to follow Him. He doesn’t want people to make a commitment to Him without understanding and seriously thinking about what is involved in this decision. Jesus does not want a half-hearted, blind commitment that expects only blessings.
Too many of us have bought into this false theology that being a Christian makes everything sunshine and rainbows. We think when we became a Christian that God immediately made things easier. Follow God and get a better job, never get sick, have children that are polite and pleasant and you never fight with your spouse.
There are two problems with this theology. First, Christians have problems, and sometimes we have lots of them. Christians lose their jobs, go bankrupt, get cancer, deal with hurricanes and tornados, and face the struggles of living in a broken world with other broken people.
Secondly, we were not created for this world, we are called to live in it, spread light into the darkness, plant and water, and then go home. Christ’s call for us to take up our own cross and follow Him is a call for commitment, not of comfort.
While I understand that salvation is a free gift of God, that doesn’t mean that it’s cheep. The last thing we read in our text this morning was that you must give up everything you have to be my follower. That’s His line in the sand, any one of you who does not give up everything, cannot be My disciple. I can’t remember many sermons I have heard or preached that touched that subject. I have preached on salvation that’s a free gift, but I haven’t preached on the cost of serving Christ.
Think about it this way: imagine that I wanted to climb Mount Everest, but because it costs about $70,000 to make that climb, it was doubtful that I would ever get to realize my dream. Now suppose someone heard of my desire and offered to pay for the entire expedition. He would buy all the expensive clothing and gear; he would pay for my transportation, the guides, and the training. It’s totally free for me. But if I accept his free offer, I must commit myself to the difficult training, putting forth the effort, and even risking my very life, because many good climbers die trying to climb Mount Everest. While the trip is free, it involves a big cost.
Christ is calling us to make sure we are willing to pay the cost before we make the commitment. Jesus wants to know if we are in this for the long haul, if we are willing to follow Him no matter what happens or what you’re required to give up? There is only one way to truly follow Jesus. Followers must be willing to give up everything.
This morning you need to ask yourself if you have left everything to follow after Him? Do you remember when Peter and Andrew were called to follow Jesus? They left their jobs to follow Him.
When James and John were called to follow Jesus they left their families to follow Him.
What have you left behind to follow Jesus? You cannot be His disciple if you do not give everything up and follow Him.
Questions For You To Consider
Read Luke 14:25-33
How do you think these words impacted the crowd?
What do you think Jesus was trying to do by speaking this way to the crowd?
Re-state verse 26 in your own words.
Why would Jesus want us to hate our family members?
(Remember that Jeremy read from the New Living Translation Luke 14:26 If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple)
Why would Jesus want us to hate our own life?
After Jesus, what is the second most important thing in your world?
How could this become a competitor to following Jesus?
When Jesus calls us to take up a cross, what do you think it means for us today?
In what ways are “everyday” trials different from bearing a cross?
(Traffic jams, a cold, even facing a life-threatening illness are part of life on a broken planet. Not the same as paying a price for doing the right thing.)
Would Jesus really want us to suffer or pay a price for following him?
What is the meaning of the stories about building a house or facing an enemy army?
How do these stories fit with verses 26-27?
What has it cost you to follow Jesus? Why are you willing to pay such a price?