You Don’t Want to Follow Jesus If…

The thrust of Christianity is to make disciples (Mt. 28:18-20). The basic meaning of a disciple is someone who follows Jesus Christ. When Jesus came into first century Palestine, he encouraged people to follow him and become his disciples (Mt. 4:18-22). From the first century until now, Christians have been persuading the world to follow Jesus. Sometimes, in our efforts to convert our family and friends, we may fail to tell them the difficulty of being a Christian.  While Jesus was interested in the souls of men, he sometimes taught hard things that turned people away from him (Jn. 6:60-66). Christianity is not for the lukewarm or those who are wishy-washy in their commitments. To follow Jesus involves commitment (Mt.16:24). Jesus even seemingly even talked some people out of following him if they are not willing to count the cost (Lk. 14:28).  So, we may not want to follow Jesus if:

 Comfort and Ease Are High Priorities

Following Jesus is sometimes extremely uncomfortable. On one occasion a man attempted to follow Jesus and Jesus impresses him with the difficulty of discipleship: “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’” (Lk. 9:57-58).

This man wanted to follow Jesus and Jesus tells the man that he is homeless. The birds and foxes had it better than Jesus when it concerned shelter. If this man wanted to follow Jesus, he had to face the fact that he might not always enjoy the comfort of a nice place to lay his head. While Jesus does not command his disciples to take a vow of poverty, it’s important to realize that following Jesus may result in loss of comfort. Christianity is often inconvenient.

Those who would follow Jesus must prepare for schedule interruptions, loss of material wealth, and possible abandonment from family and friends (Lk. 14:33). Those in the Bible who followed Jesus faced difficult circumstances and were often in danger, hunger, and discomfort (2 Cor. 11:22-31). If we present a problem free, lackadaisical Christianity to the world, we present them with a false view. If you must always be comfortable and always operate on a smooth schedule, you might not want to follow Jesus.

 God is Not a Priority

Some people are simply too busy for Christianity. It has been said, “God does not want weekend visitations as our father, but full custody.” There are those who have sports, shopping, hobbies, and many other activities ahead of their relationship to God. While one may not quit Christianity altogether, the attempt to squeeze in a little Jesus when convenient is not going to work. Jesus often stressed the total commitment necessary to be his disciple. A divided allegiance simply will not do (Mt. 6:24, 13:44-46, 22:37-40).

There have been those who wanted to follow Jesus but wanted to do other things first and Jesus would not accept it: “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’” (Lk. 9:50-60).

Jesus was not harsh or insensitive to someone burying their deceased loved one. This man seems to be wanting to go back and be home just in case his father dies. He is delaying his discipleship for another event that he wants to put first. Jesus is saying, let the spiritually dead bury the dead, but you should get busy proclaiming the kingdom. If I have many other priorities like becoming successful in business, getting my degree, or finding the right mate ahead of being a Christian, I might not want to follow Jesus.

While those things are not inherently sinful, they need to take a back seat to my relationship with God. The Jesus who left the glories of heaven and came to earth to be spat upon, beaten, tempted, and mocked on our behalf will not take second place to my calculus homework or my fairytale love story (see Phil. 2:5-11). If you believe you have more important things to do, Jesus is not the one to follow.

The Past is Priority

The Bible has a lot to say about looking back. The Bible encourages us to have a healthy handle on our past as sinners (Eph. 2:1-9). We were sinners and have been saved. We need to remember this so that we can reach out to others without a proud and arrogant spirit. However, the Bible also warns against being so stuck in past success or failure that we fail to live for the future (Phil. 3:13-14). Some people are so wrapped up in how bad they were that they never look ahead to see how bright their future can be with God.

Others, are so enamored with their former days of service to Jesus that they forget that life must be lived in the present. Jesus discouraged people from looking back when they wanted to follow him: “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’” (Lk. 9:61-62).

Again Jesus tells this man not to worry about the family left behind, but to face forward and follow him. Turning back is not an option for the disciple of Jesus. If there is something in your past more important than your future with Jesus, you do not want to follow him. The calendar of the Bible always reads today; not yesterday or tomorrow (Prov. 27:1; Mt. 6:34). If we assume we had it better when we served sin in the past and Christianity has only made our lives boring, we will eventually turn back and be in a worse condition than before (2 Pet. 2:20-22).

In Luke 9:58-62, three times people wanted to follow Jesus and three times Jesus just about talks them out of it. We should not make Christianity harder than Jesus did, but we also should not make it easier. We should not lead people to think following Jesus will erase all of their problems, make life smoother, and always be expedient. The way to Jesus is still narrow (Mt. 7:13-14). Some people treasure comfort, hobbies, and the past so much that they may not want to follow Jesus.

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Hiram Kemp

Servant of Christ. Husband. Father.