Monday Morning Pastor – 2/19/17

February 20, 2017
Note: Each week we will have a guest writer who will share a few of their personal thoughts on Sunday’s sermon. Unlike Monday Morning Quarterbacking, from which this series gets its name, we aren’t looking to critique so much as share how we have been personally impacted. This week’s post comes from Mary Lebeau.

Title: What’s in the Way?
Passage: Luke 9:57-62

I can always tell a good sermon by the revelations that arise on the car ride home.

This Sunday, in reflecting on the message Pastor Mark shared concerning Jesus’ challenges to those who claimed to follow Him, Scott confessed, “If Jesus was here walking the earth right now, and He said, “Come follow me,” I’m afraid my answer might be, “Yes, Lord, but I can’t right now. I have to work to provide for my family.”

And then my revelation: Jesus is here right now. He is challenging us in the same way. What are we going to do about it?

Now, I’m not saying that making a living or providing for your family is wrong. In fact, I believe that those very things are a calling, a ministry chosen by God for some of us. But I am saying that, like the people Jesus encountered, there are times I am willing to follow Jesus. Only not too far, into the territory where it may begin to cost me.

Let’s face it, the men that spoke to Jesus in the reading from Luke sounded an awful lot like people we know (or, dare I say, encounter in the mirror). Just like them, I know the benefits of following Jesus – eternal life, forgiveness of sins, a relationship with the Lord of the universe. And just like them – like all of us – I want those things. I want – I need – Jesus.

But am I willing to go the distance?   Can I really bear witness to the death died for me on Calvary – then  casually volunteer to lift my own cross daily in order to follow Him? Yes, of course, I want to do this. I want to follow hard after Jesus, and let His love for the world shine through me. But has this been my reality – even when the going gets hard?

Let’s look at the reality Jesus shared with those stepping up to follow Him. To the first, He reminded that this “following” gig is no easy task. Sure, there’s the promise of heaven ahead – but along the way, you may not even have a place to rest your head.

A concern for creature comforts? There’s no room for that for followers of Jesus. We can’t get tied down to such things, for they become distractions – or even “idols” – that get in the way of the important mission we’ve been given.  It seems as though Jesus has asked – or required – His followers to give up all that we may think is valuable or important to hold on to the one thing that truly is.

As He said in Mark 8:36, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” And then He backed those words by setting the perfect example, by giving up His very life on the cross for me.

The others stepping up that day showed similar lack of focus on the journey Jesus was taking (and they were volunteering to join). One wanted to wait to bury his (still living) father. This excuse sort of hits home. How many times have we promised to be more deliberate in our walks – once our careers take off, once the bills are paid, once we get through this storm, once the kids are older, once we retire…. Life will always be full of distractions. There will never be a “good time” to follow. There’s only the right time, which is right now, and every minute.

And the final man wanted to say goodbye to his family. This sounds like a simple request, as Jesus said, you can’t put your hand to the plow, then look back. When we’re walking with Jesus, we need to keep our eyes focused on the task at hand, for it is of utmost importance. To turn away from it, to glance to either side or, yes, even look back, can lead to disaster. We can’t let any of those things that the world says are so important get in the way of the work ahead of us. And yes, that even means relationships.

Every day, I pray for focus.  I know my life is full of distractions, and so many times I find myself telling the Lord to just wait until my life is ready to do His work. But as Pastor Mark said, this is not the time to put out fires; it’s a time to ignite a fire in my soul.  I need to be willing to let it burn, no matter what I may need to give up or leave behind.

Just like the salesman in the car lot Pastor Mark spoke of, each one of us asks ourselves daily, “How much do you want to spend?” When instead, the ultimate price has already been paid for us, paid in full, at Calvary. That’s how much Jesus was willing to spend. But am I willing to truly follow Him – to not just benignly accept the gift, but to invest my life into extending the gift to others?

What’s in my way?  In the end, as always, the answer is myself.

 

Contact Dave Hallahan if you’d like to contribute to this series.
Listen to the full sermon here