It’s time to get real!
Following Jesus might cost you money, popularity, success. Are you willing to pay the price?
Have you ever played those “what if” games at youth group? You know, the ones where your leaders throw tricky situations at you, and you have to tell everyone how you’d react.
I’m pretty sure most people do a quick calculation at this point.
- You know almost straight away what you’d actually do.
- You know whether it would fit with what your leaders want
- You change your answer to fit the situation best. (You’re not in Sunday School anymore, but you’ve totally practised those Sunday School answers!)
So right now, there’s no one to impress. If you’re reading this while you’re alone, nobody’s going to laugh at your answers, or give you trouble for it. I’m not going to know what your real answer is, so you have the chance to be totally, utterly honest.
Answer these questions truthfully
- What would you do if all your friends and family told you that you were absolutely stupid for following Jesus?
- What would you do if following Jesus meant you’d never be able to afford that overseas gap year, or Macbook Air, or [insert awesome gadget here]?
- What would you do if following Jesus meant that you’d always be single?
- What would you do if following Jesus made you miss work (and money)?
- What would you do if following Jesus meant you would always be in the least cool group at school?
Following Jesus doesn’t mean these things are all going to drop on you like a block of concrete. But if any of these questions made you sweat, chances are they’ve exposed something in your life that’s like an idol to you.
The reality of following Jesus
Jesus had lots of people make proud promises to him. Like Peter, who said, “I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37 - he said that only a couple of hours before pretending he didn’t know Jesus at all). Or the rich young man who said, “I’ve followed all the law, and I reckon I’m pretty right. So how do I get into God’s Kingdom?” (paraphrasing Mark 10:17-31) Or the disciples who said, “You know what, Jesus? I really do want to follow you, but there’s a whole heap of stuff that I want to get done first.” (Luke 9).
And you know what? When Jesus was faced with those proud promises, he cut straight to the heart of their real problem:
- Jesus knew Peter was proud, so he promised Peter was going to face a reality check.
- He knew the rich young man’s real god was his money, so he told the man to sell everything he had.
- He knew the other disciples needed to be challenged about their excuses, too, so he challenged them on where their hearts really were.
Let’s get real
There is a cost to following Jesus. You can’t really follow Jesus and serve money/toys/relationships/popularity as a god too. So who are you going to follow?
If you choose Jesus, it might cost you everything you have. However, you will gain more than you could ever hope for:
- Peace with the Creator of the Universe.
- Adoption into God’s family.
- God’s Holy Spirit.
- God’s love and guidance.
- Fellowship with God’s people.
- An eternity in heaven with joy, peace, no pain, no sickness, no tears.
God doesn’t want to share us with ridiculous idols. That’s like having a Masterchef meal mixed with sand. What God offers is so much better and more lasting than anything else we can chase after, or even dream of. So next time you go through the “what if’s”, just remember: there may be a cost to following Jesus. But it’s nothing compared to the God we’re serving.