Sep 17, 2011

Left Everything

I was enjoying some time in God's word this morning with a cup of coffee on my front porch.  Reading through my Bible plan, I journeyed through Luke 5 this morning.  This is Luke's account of Jesus' early ministry.  It includes the calling of his first disciples.  It was a powerful reminder of Jesus' authority and his transformative power.  In both the calling of Peter, Andrew, James and John in verse 11 and the calling of Levi in verse 28 the common denominator is that they "left everything and followed him."  That's just amazing!  These men saw something in Jesus so awesome that they turned their backs on what they had devoted their whole life to and walked with him into an uncertain future.  Peter and the boys had just experienced a haul of fish like no other.  They had been doing this for years, and had never had a day like this.  It was so miraculous that Peter trembled in fear before the Lord and asked him to leave because he was scared of his own sinfulness before the Messiah.  At the moment of their greatest prosperity, they left it all and walked away.  They left the secure and familiar for the unknown.  They decided that they would rather be with Jesus than have a secure future.  Jesus would make it very clear soon that there would be no personal gain.  When Jesus would turn away the Rich Young Ruler because of his unwillingness to do the same, Peter would remind Jesus that "we have left everything and followed you.  What then will we have?"

How different is this call from Jesus for immediate and costly obedience than the attitude of most in the church today that want Jesus AND everything else?  How different is this from the promise that you can have "your best life now"?  How do we reconcile this call with the fact that the average church goer gives less than 3% of his income to kingdom related causes?  How do we reconcile this call for costly abandonment with church-goers who are over-mortgaged and parking $40,000 vehicles in church parking lot?  I am not advocating that having resources is an evil or sinful thing.  I know that God does allow for financial prosperity in some of his children.  However, he does this so that after we have abandoned their hold on us we can use them to multiply his kingdom.  This fact that the majority of disciples will not leave everything to only have Jesus is shown in my own denomination where we are bringing missionaries home and cannot send people ready to go because churches and members are not giving enough to meet budgetary needs.  However, just last week, I took myself and my oldest three boys to a college football game.  I was in a stadium with 87,000 people where the average ticket was at least $70 face value and the average person probably spent close to $40 or more on concessions.  All this for a three-hour game.  Is it a sin to enjoy football and go experience it? No.  I had a great time!  It was a much needed break for me and a memory for my children.  However, I also know that I need to do a much better job of modeling for them the "abandonment attitude" of the gospel.  My heart and theirs are battling the idol of materialism way too much.

I wonder if Jesus walked into our worship service tomorrow and said to the assembled worshipers, "Follow Me" if we would have the same response Peter, James, Andrew, John, and Levi did?  Or, would we go consult our financial advisor to make sure we had enough already stored in our 401k first?  Would we model "immediate abandonment" or would we be like the man in Luke 9 who said "First, let me go and bury my father."  What do you think?


Jenny Bowers said...

A timely word.thanks.