The mystery of following God
Luke 14:25-35; BCBC/IOUC; 7/11/2021; Rev. Paul Wang
To follow God is a big topic, but it consists of our daily steps. Once the topic of following God enters into our life, it is interrogating our souls. What are our values? What is the will to serve the Lord? Seriously thinking? Let’s look at the first point:
To love God more than anything else
It may be easy to say in our mouth, but we are not necessarily clear about the idea of following the Lord, right? What is to love God more than anything else? Have you thought about it? First, above what one loves. What do we love? It is nothing more than those worldly things, like the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of this life, right? Our food, clothing, housing, transportation, fame and fortune, which one is not our love? When you are in hunger, can you bear it? When you pass the luxury bag stores, can you stand without buying them? Toyota or Mercedes, which one will you choose? Tell a little lies, then you can immigrate to US. Give a little bribery, then you can be promoted and wealthy. Our life is filled with the possibility of temptation, what is your choice? Are you going to betray God for those things you love?
Second, abandon what is hard to give up. What is the hardest to abandon in our life? Different people have different values, and their choices are different, right? In Luke’s eyes, the hardest to abandon is the interpersonal relationships, like our parents, wife, children, brothers, sisters and our life. Human sociality and ethics are both a grace and a bond. The ultimate concern of our life is God and only God can fill the empty part of our inner heart. All the relationships are designed by God for us to learn how to love each other. God is love, and the other relationships are the tools for us to learn and know the Love. What can not be abandoned for God?
Lastly, move to the destiny of life. Luke’s pen and ink is very graceful, and he uses metaphor quite often, which leave deep impressions. Verse 25, he wrote ’Large crowds were traveling with Jesus’, verse 26, he wrote ’If anyone comes to me’, verse 27, he wrote ’follow me!’. He was talking about the destiny of life is to follow God! If a person tells he loves God more than the other things, but does not follow God, he is a liar! The highest state of loving God more than the others is to follow the Lord! Do you agree? Let’s look at the second point:
Willing to carry the cross
To carry the cross and follow the Lord, why is it so easy to become just talking but difficult to implement? The difficulty is at our willingness, right? First, to carry one’s own cross. Do not think that you are aggrieved, as if you are carrying someone else’s burden, or even thinking that you are carrying the cross for the Lord. What we are not able to carry, the Lord has carry them for us. But we still need our efforts to return to our home in heaven. It is what Jesus said, right? The road to heaven is narrow, can you not make efforts? Below that is cliff, can you not be alert? You will be smashed to pieces once you fall down! When you come to the gate of the heaven but can not enter into, what should we do? Too fat! The entanglement of the world is too heavy! Being reluctant to give up greed, holding tightly of the pride, and packing the jealousy, dispute, bitterness, resentment and hatred together. Do not forget the gate of heaven is narrow! The life after we believe in God is to cope with our old self. Right?
Second, to follow God who sacrificed his life. To live for God is easy to say but difficult to implement in our daily life. Why? Is our faith unique? Or randomly equate Jesus with Confucius, Socrates, Kant and so on? Today to learn from Confucius, tomorrow submit to Kant, and the day after tomorrow revere Socrates? Then, you are not truly believe in Jesus Christ. Except Jesus Christ, who has sacrificed his life for you? Except Jesus Christ, who has incarnated, descended into the world as a man, sacrificed his life on the cross, resurrected and ascended to heaven, and will come again? He sacrificed his life when we were sinners! Since then, we know what is love, right? While we treat God as an enemy, he died for us on the cross. Is not he worthy of you living for him? He died for you and you live for him, are you not willing?
Lastly, be Christ’s disciple. We have to go into the history of Israel to understand what Messiah means. Israelites’ feeling as God’s elect, it’s not easy for us to feel as outsiders. Other than grace and glory, actually it also includes sadness and fear. Since Abraham, Israelites lived very few days in peaceful. Exodus, captured and returned, scattered all over the world, experiencing massacre, facing trouble, and never ending! Not too long ago, thousands missile attack from Hamas. Luckily, there are ’Iron Dome’ defense system. Therefore, Israelites hope of Messiah has a very strong sense of realistic urgency. Can you understand? We as the new Israelites and the elected person, our sense of urgency is the mission of gospel. Because only after the gospel has been spread all over the world, Jesus will come! Let’s look at the third point:
You should estimate the cost
To estimate the cost means to think through, not to follow the crowd in a muddle. First, just like building a tower. To build a tower, you have to calculate the cost, right? After foundation is set, you also need to build the house, to decorate the interior, etc., right? The principle is not to give up halfway! Unfinished building would be laughed at by the others. To be laughed at by the others means to make God’s name humiliated! It’s the same to follow the Lord! To believe in Jesus and obtain the eternal life is to walk in heavenly path. Of course, we can not walk on the old roads with our new shoes, right? Facing the temptation of the world, you can’t love the world either, right? Bian Yunbo said, it is one’s own hands who are willing to let go of the temptation of the world, and it is one’s own feet who are willing to run on this cross road! Just think them through, no force!
Second, just like fighting a battle. To use a battle to describe the mission and the scene of following the Lord is meaningful. To fight a battle is to kill people, and the cost is far more than building a house! Before the battle, of course we have to calculate the military power both from us and our enemy. If we found that the military power of our enemy is twice of us, how can we win? What should we do if we can not win? To send a delegation to ask for terms of peace? After Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples were left weak. Facing the Roman Empire at its heyday, how could they fight the war? Could they win? If they could not, they could go to ask for terms of peace! Just said to Roman Emperor, we would not share the gospel afterwards! After the Roman Emperor heard this, he would say, good! Then came to believe in our sun god! Today’s world is the same. The strength of the church is weak. What should we do? To compromise with the world? To submit to the evil? Does not our God have the strength? Does not the Holy Spirit work? Are there no people sharing the gospel? Are there no people devote their money, time and life? Do not forget God located Elijah with angels and heavenly army and there are still 7,000 people who have not bowed to Baal! Don’t be afraid, just believe! God will fight for us! Don’t worry!
Finally, we should abandon everything. We will do our part! Be salt, we have to have the salty taste! Be God’s children, we have to have the image of God’s children! Pay attention on the details of the Bible’s verses: if salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? Christian can not lose our spiritual personality, that is our new life style. Our spiritual life have to be more and more like the Lord! We can be weak but we cannot be not repent! When we regard departing from the Lord as the normal state of life, salt loses its taste. Normal state is the basic style of life, including our devotional prayer, worship fellowship, worship service, dedicated mission, etc.. The consequence will be serious. It is not said by me, but by the Lord: ’It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear. (Luke 14:35)’
Dear brothers and sisters, do you know how to follow the Lord? The Bible says that everything you do flows from the heart. God looks at our hearts, whether there is love, whether there is love for Him! Do you have? The Holy Spirit is also watching us walking the cross road. Are you willing? Calculating the cost, one is our free will, and God respects our decisions. Second is to think clearly, should we fight this good battle for the Lord? Even if you give up your life, are you willing?
Let us pray……
(Luke14:25 NIV) Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:
(Luke14:26 NIV) “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.
(Luke14:27 NIV) And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.“
(Luke14:28 NIV) Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?
(Luke14:29 NIV) For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,
(Luke14:30 NIV) saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
(Luke14:31 NIV) “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
(Luke14:32 NIV) If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.
(Luke14:33 NIV) In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
(Luke14:34 NIV) “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?
(Luke14:35 NIV) It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”