Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Words of Encouragement

I am always amazed at what we can learn from animals.  A dog can learn to follow someone because they are the one in authority.  They will follow and know that at the end of their obedience they will be rewarded.  How much more then should we know this?  We can follow God's son Jesus, because he is the one in authority.  We can know at the end of our following we will be rewarded for our obedience.  Lord help us to obey you.

When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." Another disciple said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." - Matthew 8:18-22

Discipleship. Calls for Complete Sacrifice. What a strange message in these few verses of scripture.  We have one that is a teacher of the law saying to Jesus, I'll follow you where ever you go. Jesus however does not say to him, good come.  Instead Jesus says to him the foxes have holes but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.  What kind of response is that?

Could it be Jesus response to the teacher of the Law is to show that this is not a walk of self importance or of personal rewards?  As I have been studying the Old Testament influence on the New Testament I have learned some very interesting things.  One thing was just how much being a teacher/priest had moved from being just about following God's commands but had become a political/power struggle.  Those in power sometimes were more concerned with their personal gain and the importance of holding these offices.  So could this be Jesus' way of saying, in order to follow me, you must be willing to give up what political or power you might have in this world.  You very well may have to even give up your creature comforts.

Another comes and says Jesus let me go and bury my dead.  What a strange answer Jesus gives.  How can the dead bury the dead?  Could Jesus be telling this disciple you must be willing to let go of every earthly importance to follow after me.  If there be anything that would stand in the way of you following me, you must release it.  Is family, career, or relationship standing in the way.  Then Jesus' call is let them go.

Does this mean that God does not want us to have family, relations or friends?  Not so.  However, if we want to be disciples of Christ we must not allow anything to take the rightful place of God in our importance, not even ourselves.  There is nothing that can be in front of our obedience to God.  There are sometimes in your life that you will have to make some stands that others will truly not understand.  Yet, if God is telling you to do it, then you must not let anything keep you from making that stand.

I pray for us today that we count the cost of what it means to be a true disciple of Christ.  Lord help us today to not only count the cost but to step out and begin to follow you as you call us.