Challenging the Convenient Disciple
4 October 2017
‘Follow Me’ said Jesus to the would-be disciples, and immediately their excuses began. One said that he needed to go and bury his father and the next said he wanted to go home and tidy up a few loose ends.
This sounds chillingly like so many of us from ‘Generation Me’ – full of offers of commitment BUT only able to fulfil them when it is convenient for us. Just like these would-be disciples, we are easily distracted, we prioritise around our creature comforts and we certainly like to keep our options open. But Jesus is quite firm in this passage and doesn’t leave us any wriggle room to try and bargain with Him. He pulls no punches here – sometimes what the Father requires of us is not easy or comfortable.
So, here is the really challenging question – when Jesus asks you to ‘Follow me’, how do you respond? Is it an unequivocal ‘yes’ or do you hesitate and try to find a way to fit it around your own plans? Jesus reminds us with a farming analogy, that ploughing straight lines requires concentration and keeping our eyes to the front. Following Jesus is a long-term commitment – we need to learn to recognise the things that distract us and focus our hearts on Him.
St Paul was conscious of what a challenge this can be as he wrote to encourage the Church at Phillipi:
“Brothers, I do not reckon myself as having taken hold of it; I can only say that forgetting all that lies behind me, and straining forward to what lies in front, I am racing towards the finishing-point to win the prize of God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. So this is the way in which all of us who are mature should be thinking, and if you are still thinking differently in any way, then God has yet to make this matter clear to you. Meanwhile, let us go forward from the point we have each attained.”
Let us take courage and keep our eyes on the prize today, as we try to put aside our own self-interest to truly follow Christ’s calling.