Monday, May 30, 2005

Following Jesus is Harder than it Looks

Have you ever noticed how difficult Jesus made it for would-be disciples to follow him? When a man approaches Jesus and proclaims, "I want to follow you." Jesus responds with a cryptic saying about foxes and birds and the fact that he can't afford to stay in a cheap hotel. So if following Jesus is what you want to do, be prepared for inadequate accomodations and hardship along the way. When one poor sap requested to bury his father prior to following Jesus (presumably his father hadn't died and he was in fact delaying the inevitable act of followership until after he received his share of the inheritance), Jesus takes him to task and instructs him to be about the business of God's kingdom. Finally, when another would-be disciple is invited to follow, Jesus promptly tells him that one cannot follow Jesus by spending their life looking in the rear-view mirror. "No one who puts their hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom."

This is not seeker friendly evangelism. Jesus doesn't seem to be concerned about his statistical success at attracting followers who are intent on following Jesus on his terms. He simply calls people to follow, and leaves the rest up to us. Based on these three brief encounters between would-be disciples and Jesus, one gets the distinct impression that if Jesus had lived any longer than he did, he would have had a negative success rate at attracting people to join his movement. As it was, there were only a dozen in the end (including the one who betrayed him and another who denied him).

Maybe that's the point. We spend so much time trying to attract the lowest common denominator to our congregations that the real cost of Jesus followership is diluted to the point that it no longer has any meaning. I wonder if Jesus would have been included in Time Magazine's top twenty-five evangelical leaders with his approach to discipleship? I wonder what would happen if Jesus was called to serve my church or your church? Discipleship is hard. On good days, I think I'm up for it. On most days, I wonder what in the world am I thinking?


At 8:27 AM, Anonymous tomb said...

It appears you've found your Contrarian Leader. Unfortunately, in our current culture, disciples might be seen as contrarian churh attenders. Isn't that part of the message in Divine Conspiracy?

At 10:46 AM, Blogger BJBergfalk said...

Yes, I suppose Jesus was the ultimate contrarian leader. It didn't occur to me that there was a connection until you pointed it out. Thanks. Perhaps it is time for the church to focus its energy on what it means to be part of Jesus' "divine conspiracy" rather than wasting our energy on some of our "traditional" notions of church?

At 10:47 AM, Blogger BJBergfalk said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:55 PM, Blogger theultrarev said...

I wonder if some how this post is related to your post about prostituting yourself. When you wrote, "Jesus doesn't seem to be concerned about his statistical success at attracting followers" I immediately thought about your prostitute post.

Do we prostitute ourselves to be attractive or maybe at other times to be seeker friendly? I wonder.


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