April 18 – Gaining Focus in the Middle of a Carnival

2 Samuel 3-5 Luke 14:25-35

“If anyone comes to me but loves his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters—or even life—more than me, he cannot be my follower.” (Luke 14:26 NCV)

Jesus became a Judean rock star. People gathered around, just wanting to be near Him. If cell phones and social media existed back then, the social media pages would’ve been filled with selfies taken with Jesus. People would talk about going to hear Jesus teach. They’d probably drop His name into the conversation to make their relationship seem to be bffs. “So I pulled out my sandwich around lunch time and Jesus said, ‘Man does not live by bread alone,’ and I laughed and said, ‘that’s right, that’s why I have the lamb meat in the sandwich.’ We both laughed.” A carnival-like atmosphere had grown up around Jesus. In the midst of the revelry, Jesus spoke hard truth to the people. “If you love anything more than me, don’t even bother trying to follow me.”

There were a lot of ways that I could have paraphrased what Jesus said, but so many of them would have lightened the mood of a harsh saying. Jesus needed to be that blunt, but it was still hard to take. It’s still hard for many to take today. We want to make following Jesus a fun thing to do, if it’s convenient. We’ll go to church if we don’t have any other obligations. We might pitch in a couple of bucks to help the church because they do some good things. We may occasionally read the Bible, or at least share some of our favorite verses that we’ve heard through the years. Two of my favorites are “God helps those who help themselves,” and “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” But we wouldn’t want to be fanatical and make church a weekly habit or talk to others about Jesus. We might go to Youth camp, but never a mission trip. If you think about it, this Christianity thing can be fun. Fun until these words of Jesus cut through the veneer of false faith as He tells us to forsake traditional family relationships and even our lives to follow Him. We’re called to proclaim the Kingdom of God. We’re called to bring the message of reconciliation between God and man. There’s nothing more important than that calling. My wife and I love each other a whole lot – but from before we were married, we both knew that Jesus came first. Because of that mutual commitment, we can serve together. For many, especially in the days of Jesus, family obligations could keep people from following Jesus completely. “Lord, I’ll follow You, but first…” is what people say when they think family obligations are more important than being sold out for Jesus. When we fail to be obedient to the call of Jesus because a family member might object, we’re showing that someone or something comes before God in our lives. Is God calling you to teach a class, minister to outcasts, or travel the world to share the gospel? No relationship is so important that you should reject His call. No sacrifice is too great to make to follow Jesus. Follow Him in His way, today.

Lord, there are so many distractions as I try to follow You. Help me keep my focus on You no matter what the cost may be. Let my life show others how much I love You.

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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About rockyfort

I am a retired Middle School Teacher. I share each day what God is teaching me from reading His word hoping that people can benefit from reading what God has taught me.
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