REASON #5 – “I Just Don’t Buy It” (the god of Unbelief)

It’s really not politically correct (especially in church culture) to say it this way, but that doesn’t mean we don’t think it. It goes something like this: “If being a Christian means I have to ___________ (fill in the blank with whatever lifestyle change you are facing) then you can have it – It’s not for me”. It’s what happens every time there is a collision of our world with the real Jesus. For anyone who has been trying to follow Jesus for any amount of years, this no doubt has happened many, many times. If we are still following, it is because He eventually opened our eyes to see that the pain of changing our life-style (again) was well worth it – if not solely for the benefit of knowing Him.

It is encouraging to see that Jesus dealt with unbelief among His twelve. In Matthew 17:17 He mentions the unbelief that left a boy in spiritual bondage. In John 20:27 He meets Thomas’ unbelief with the experience of touching His risen body, but at the same time calls those who believed because of what they already knew of Him, “blessed”.

Unbelief can be the bigger problem behind the other four reasons – and maybe we don’t find out how deep the rabbit hole goes until we address the parts closer to the surface. It was this very issue that shut down an entire culture according to Romans 11. Verse 8 even describes it as a “spirit” that blinds peoples’ spiritual eyes. Matthew 7:21-23 gives account of Jesus warning to us about practicing Christian-looking things without really knowing Jesus. I think this comes down to believing it is worth it – being one of His “sheep” (John 10). We don’t just answer this once, but our hearts are revealed in the end. It is written in

2 Tim 2:11,12:

For if

we died with Him, we will also live with Him;

If we endure , we will also reign with Him.

Finally, I have to give my personal take on all of this-Follower-ship with Jesus stuff. It will be 35 years for me on New Years Eve. With all that I have been through, I am more like Thomas than the other disciples – because I have seen and touched the reality of Jesus’ work in my own life and the lives of others. I have no excuse – but I had to start somewhere, and for those who have not seen and yet still believe, remember He calls you “blessed”. Hang in there!

Grace & Peace


REASON #4 – “They Can’t ALL be Wrong!” (the god of This World)

There is no question that as we look over the vast sea of those who identify themselves as Christians, a lifestyle of discipleship, by any reasonable definition, is not the norm and is simply not assumed by this group(may I refer to it as… “Christendom”?) to be, in any way, essential.

But what did Jesus say about those who wanted eternal life?

v The rich guy in Matt. 19:16: “How do I get eternal life?” Jesus, “sell it and follow me”;

v Jesus to His audience in Matt. 19:29: “Leave your family to follow me – you get eternal life.”

v John wrote, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life” John 3:36

v Jesus again in John 10:27-28 – “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish;

v And finally, as Jesus spoke of Himself to God in prayer in John 17, He says, “…to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life: that they may know You,…”.

There is no way that we can see anyone but followers of Jesus getting eternal life. Even though we think of the word “believe” as a theology issue, it actually has the same root word “obey” in the Greek. That is why the two words seem to be used interchangeably in John 3:36. When I first found this out I have to admit, it pretty well scared the crap out of me. I knew I wasn’t obeying at that point in my life. Other things still had more authority in my life than Jesus. I could talk you into a corner on theology, but I couldn’t walk to the next corner and stay close to Jesus.

According to Jesus, eternal life is for followers…those that “obey”. In our vocabulary, discipleship is “follower-ship” – a lifestyle of living under the authority of Jesus. This is not rule-following, it’s the living Spirit of God/Spirit of Jesus that first taught our hearts who He was, so we could agree about who He is. As it says in Romans 8:14…“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” Follower-ship defines the ones who receive eternal life.

REASON #3 – “I Can’t afford it!” (the god of Money)

We are doing chapter 5 of Luke this month in our house church, and it opens with an account of Jesus invading Peter’s workplace that most Bibles cross reference to passages in Mark and Matthew. The Harmony of the Gospels (Thomas & Gundry), however, sets this passage apart as unique to Luke’s Gospel, and after looking closely at the details given it is not hard to see that they are correct. The difference that makes is this: Peter, John and their brothers had been called by Jesus once before, (Peter is calling Him master in this passage) so that the scene is one where the brothers had followed Jesus, and then gone back to business as usual. They had not trusted Jesus with their livelihood.

Jesus handles this by bringing a crowd to the shores of Gennesaret where their boats were landed after an all-nighter on the lake with no fish to show for it. How annoying for Peter to be interrupted by Jesus asking to take Him out so he could use His boat as a pulpit…then after he has him out there He tells him to put his nets down again (the carpenter telling the fisherman where to put his nets!) . When Peter did this of course they overflowed with fish and had to get all four involved in loading the fish into the boats and hauling them to shore.

So much for Peter thinking he couldn’t “afford” to follow Jesus as a disciple, but what about me? As I write this I can only tell you what I have seen: after being an ‘unbeliever’ for most of my life when it came to Jesus being in the middle of my work (except of course when serving in a church), early in 2010 I began asking God for “daily bread” every morning as a way of recognizing Him as my source of income – regardless of where it looked like it was coming from. I am a small business owner, and I consider it to be Jesus showing up in my work that since January of this year all of my budget needs have been met – every month.

I don’t think I am being overly pessimistic when I say that most who call themselves Christians do not bring Jesus into the middle of their work and finances. Money is a powerful and jealous god, and does not like competition. It claims to be the source of our comfort, our esteem and our power in life. To set aside and guard time for discipleship – even just once a week…well, try it and see what happens. See if financial “considerations” don’t pop up and demand that time back.

It happened to the rich young man, and to the one who wanted to “bury his father” first (most likely a euphemism for settling the inheritance). It is my prayer that Jesus will show up at more of our workplaces and ask for a tour, then show the power of His provision…because there really is no “plan B” for the commission to make, and be, disciples.

Reasons 4 and 5 are coming this week!

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REASON #2 – “It’s really out of my comfort zone” (The god of Comfort)
If there is one thing we are learning about trying to walk with Jesus’ it’s that it involves no right to be comfortable. Living with a band of people who spend time with each other at least twice per week (more than many spend with spouses or kids) means getting really close – close enough to not only see each other’s weak spots but have them really get annoying.

Jesus warned would be disciples about this in many ways: Luke 9:58 (“foxes have holes…), John 15:20 (“…if they persecute Me they will persecute you”), and Matthew 10:34 (“I have not come to bring peace but a sword”, speaking of conflict in the family) Jesus’ relationships with the twelve, and especially Peter, James and John, superseded his biological family – and there is no doubt from the account we have that those apprenticing relationships were hot spots for both discomfort and growth.

These kinds of relationships in life make it hard to feel that you are ever alone…but they also temp us to use a skill that many of us put to work all too often: AVOIDANCE. Through my friends in the Journey, I have been faced with this in a big way over the past year – and can tell you it was UN-COMFORTABLE! But you know, it has also been a year of the greatest personal growth I can remember having in that amount of time.

So…is discipleship comfortable??? Definitely NOT, but is there spiritual/personal growth? I would personally guarantee it.

  • Three more reasons coming in the the next three days…so keep checking back – and feel free to comment!
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Shalom. I have been challenged lately with communicating this whole thing of discipleship. So many can say “Yes” and sound excited about “following Jesus”, but when it comes to arranging our life around that, well, that’s just a whole different concept.

In The Journey, we talk about it in terms of “rhythms” – daily, weekly, monthly and even seasonal…in that order. If being a Jesus follower doesn’t translate into a life-style, then it’s all just another theology. I think there are many reasons we don’t make this shift from theology to lifestyle, but here are what might be the TOP 5 reasons we decide we don’t need to quite take it that far. Here is the first one:

REASON #1 – “I’m not really THAT available”(the god of Control).
Jesus dealt with this on a couple of levels. One guy was faced with selling all he had in order to follow Jesus. When he realized he was not ready to make that big a change (Luke 18:23), he got real “sad”. We would have no doubt looked for a way to make it easier…wouldn’t we??? Another guy ask to wait until he buried his father (Matthew 8:21), and Jesus told him to let the dead bury there own dead! Availability has always been a big reason not to be a disciple.

There have been many in The Journey who heartily agree with the ideas we share about following Jesus, but for one reason or another can’t do the “rhythm” or lifestyle piece that we see tied to it. It is a battle for control: We ask simply, “what do I understand Jesus wants for my life?”, and then decide if we will follow that. If we say “No” with our lifestyle, at that point no amount of rationalizing can free our conscience – we just have to avoid thinking about it. Maybe this is why Jesus called “blessed” the people listed in Matthew 5… the “poor in spirit”, the ones with the least to lose. They simply place less value on having ultimate control of their lives. I need to learn to be one of these people.