I know, that title is a bit off-putting. But if you’re reading this and you’re a Christian, then we have no choice. We need to—and must—change. (If you’re reading this and you’re not Christian, I’d encourage you to keep reading to find out about a radical encounter that Jesus had with three people).
If you’re reading this and you’re a Christian, then we have no choice. We need to—and must—change.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Change into what?” We’ll get there, but first, let me quickly tell you about a recent conversation I had with pastor and author David Platt. I had the great privilege to chat with him on the show about his newest book called Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need. This isn’t some theology book written by some evangelical author, but a look into the journal of a pastor struggling with some of the biggest questions in life—while hiking some of the highest mountains in the world. David’s book is based on his real-life experience of witnessing some of the world’s deepest physical and spiritual needs firsthand in and around the Himalayan mountains. What he saw and felt left him both in tears and questioning some of Christianity’s historic doctrines. And to be sure, David wasn’t questioning these truths because he didn’t like them or because they didn’t fit his idea of “love” or “justice”—he was wrestling with them because they came right up against the raw pain he saw close-up.
Basically, David has written this book to share his experiences so that we, the readers, might rise up and be a part of the change that seeks to spread physical and spiritual hope to those in urgent need.
I whole-heartedly agree with him, and I hope and pray that myself—along with thousands of others—would take our belief in Jesus and the gospel more seriously and live out a truly surrendered life to God that accomplishes His purposes.
Well, it begins with you. It begins with me. It begins with us changing—changing from being “Christians” who see their faith as just one compartment of their life, to being Christians who let their faith in Jesus influence all compartments of their life. If you’re like me, it can be so easy to read the Bible each day, sing songs of praise to Jesus on Sundays, get together with other brothers and sisters in Christ one night of the week, but then act just like your friendly agnostic neighbor for the other 106 hours of your week. We need to change.
It begins with us changing—changing from being “Christians” who see their faith as just one compartment of their life, to being Christians who let their faith in Jesus influence all compartments of their life.
In Luke 9:57-62, we’re given three back-to-back encounters that Jesus had with some would-be disciples. And at least for two of them, they seem like honorable and noble people. And yet, we’re awakened to the fact that to be His disciple is a much higher calling than we often think. Let’s look at the passage:
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.” (Luke 9:57-62)
The first would-be disciple comes off very confident and ready, however, Jesus’ response might lead us to question where their heart really is. Basically, Jesus responds by saying, “Following me means dropping for good the quest for comfort and safety.” Perhaps this would-be disciple had hoped to follow Jesus and live a life of comfort. And yet, Jesus makes it clear that following Him and following comfort for oneself are opposed.
The second would-be disciple, in contrast to the first, responds to Jesus’ call to follow Him. They’re willing, but what’s primary in their life is to honor their deceased father in a traditional Jewish burial—which could take a year. Though this sounds honorable and even like the right decision, Jesus responds clearly that proclaiming the Kingdom of God to dead souls is more important. Not only this, but their response reveals where their true allegiance lies.
Are you and I willing to change our entire inner life so that Jesus is first?
And finally, the last would-be disciple verbally pronounces their eagerness to follow Jesus, yet with a “but.” And once again, like the previous would-be disciple, they want to first go and say good-bye to those at their home, and then follow Jesus. Jesus responds with a sharp image that concludes that those who “look back” are unfit for following Jesus—no matter what they’re looking back at. What Jesus hears from these last two would-be disciples is, “We want to follow You, but something or someone else is more important than You right now, and we need to focus on that.”
This story of these three encounters with Jesus comes across sharply, and yet it really brings us to true discipleship. Are you and I willing and ready to forsake comfort and even family when they pose a threat to following Jesus? Are you and I willing to eliminate all “buts” from our journey after Christ? Are you and I willing to change our entire inner life so that Jesus is first? Are you and I willing to change from only following Jesus on Sundays, to following Jesus all days? I hope we are, and I know David hopes so too.
A true change in our hearts and minds toward following Jesus more earnestly and fully will set us on the path of His will. And it will be on this path that He will lead us to those in physical and spiritual need, so that we might provide the hope they must have for life— both temporal and eternal.