How corrupted the Words and teachings of Jesus have become in these latter days! For anyone who has read the Bible to think that Jesus came to give us our best life now is a mystery. Well, maybe not. Satan’s purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. Certainly his intent is to cause those who read Scripture to see it not as it is, but as Satan wishes it. In his hatred of God and all that He created, Satan wants nothing more than to turn people from Him by stealing the truth of God’s Word; by killing their faith; and by destroying them along with him when his time comes to be cast into the Lake of Fire forever.
Jesus did not mince His Words when He spoke about the cost of following Him. We see multiple times where He warned His disciples that true faith was difficult. It takes perseverance, a contrary understanding of the world with its pleasures and lures, and a determination to obey Him regardless how costly it might be.
Luke 9:57-62 lays out one such instance where Jesus described what this kind of life might look like:
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.”
In these verses Jesus gave three examples of what it may mean to truly be one of His disciples:
- Some of His followers may not have a permanent home like the majority of people; rather, by committing their lives to Him, God might require them to live out of suitcases or with people groups foreign to them.
- Human beings naturally want to be with their family and friends, not all of whom are saved. In the Kingdom of God, there are only two kinds of people: those who belong to God, and those who don’t. Jesus describes those who do not know Him as dead. And for all intents and purposes, they are. If the Holy Spirit of Christ doesn’t animate them and give them life, then their spirit is dead, and their body will eventually go to the grave with no hope of resurrection to life eternal with God. Sometimes in our walk with the Lord, we have to go a different direction from those we love.
- Once someone commits to follow Jesus, that must become the most important thing in his life. If it doesn’t, the likelihood that he will fall away is great, as Jesus’ Parable of the Sower illustrates. Another example is Lot’s wife. She had been delivered from God’s wrath upon Sodom and Gomorrah, but her heart still longed for the world and its lifestyle. For that, she paid the ultimate price. She looked back and became a pillar of salt. As Jesus implies here in verse 62, she was not fit for the Kingdom of God.
We see the cost of following Jesus most clearly through the lives of believers in the 10/40 Window. In this region of the world, many of those who have come to faith, face the very real threat of death every day. In Muslim, Hindu, Communist, and animist societies the beliefs of family and friends may vary significantly from faith in Christ. That may cause great hardship as tensions boil and suspicions fester. Those around a believer may feel threatened by his faith in Christ and come against him. He may be beaten, robbed, tortured, or killed. His family may disown him, or they may be harmed because he won’t turn from Jesus.
The astounding fact is that those who truly love the Lord cannot be shaken. Believers bought by the price Jesus paid for their sins know their eternal fate should they turn away. They know the value of this free gift offered to them. But, their lives can be hard.
Jesus came to give us life and that more abundantly (John 10:10). This does not mean that our abundant life happens here in this world through its riches and by fleshly gratification. To believe that is to believe another gospel. Paul put this principle into writing in at least two different places in his epistles.
In Galatians 1:8 he said:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
Similarly in 2 Corinthians 11:4 he wrote:
For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
The true Gospel isn’t easy. It speaks of great joy and spiritual abundance in the Lord, and of the hope and certainty of life everlasting. None of this depicts a life following Jesus as one that is easy or that elevates our worldly experience above the eternal.
We must be careful by being discerning. Let us know the Word of God by reading and studying it so we recognize the true Gospel from one that is false. Let’s follow Jesus as He declared, not simply as man with his carnal worldview would have it.