Jesus Chases Off Would-be Followers

You can now get recordings of the class I teach at Community Bible Church by clicking the “Audio” link at the top of this page. In addition to the audio, you can also download PDFs of the class handouts.

The current class is called The Challenges of Discipleship, which explores seven things Jesus explicitly required from those who would follow him. Jesus did not adopt the normal approach of making himself as appealing as possible in order to attract the largest possible crowd. He selects his own followers; he does not market his gospel and then worry if anyone will show up. In fact, when one reads these seven statements, Jesus seems to be actively chasing people off, regarding half-hearted, in-it-for-themselves followers with disdain. If Jesus were not Lord and God, these demands he makes could only be regarded as insane at best, if not downright cruel.

This makes me wonder if the Church is demanding enough of those who claim to be disciples. These days, the Church looks a lot like a simple customer service organization, marketing its spiritual consulting services to help individuals develop their own do-it-yourself religions. Christianity is just one more path to self actualization. This is not the life to which Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John. He called them to love him more than their mothers, to take his word as the final word on any subject, to say no to their own desires and ambitions, to adopt his agenda of suffering servanthood, to imitate him as a way of life, to give up every earthly possession, and to live in transparent loving communion with each other.

Of course, this is the only path to self actualization, but it requires completely giving up the goal of self actualization in favor of what we might call Christ actualization. If you’re going to follow Jesus, he requires you to relinquish the idea of inventing your own form of spirituality. In fact he requires you to relinquish the position of governing your own life in every aspect, in favor of his governing it. If I adopt this place, Jesus will teach and train me to be the fully human being I was created to be, living in proper relationship to my Creator, to my fellow-humans, and to the rest of his created universe.


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