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Saturday

False Hope

When you really stop and think about it, it is amazing how easy we have made it to become and be a Christian in our culture.  All you have to do in many churches is raise your hand and maybe repeat a prayer and you are in.  When I was a kid you at least had to walk down the aisle and shake the preacher's hand.  Today, even that much of a public commitment is deemed too likely to scare people from making a decision.  The Bible never talks about following Jesus in the same ways that we seem to.  Consider the following passages of scripture, all dealing with following Jesus.


Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. -- Matthew 16:24
And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. -- Matthew 10:28
Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." -- Matthew 19:21
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. -- Luke 14:26


This sounds a little different than raise your hand and repeat after me, doesn't it?  It gets even better (or worse). Read what Jesus tells some men who come to Him and ask to follow Him.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  To another he said, “Follow me.”But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  And Jesus  said to him,“Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”  Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” --Luke 9:57-62

Keep in mind, these are men coming to Jesus with the intent and desire to follow Him.  It almost sounds like Jesus is trying talk them out of being His disciple, doesn't it?  It certainly is a far cry from the seeker sensitive model that has become so popular in so many places today.  Jesus isn't really trying to talk them out of following Him but He does want them to be perfectly clear what the cost is of being His disciple.  All attachment to this world must end.  Our jobs, our dreams, even our own families must become nothing compared to our love and devotion for Jesus.  Nothing less than total surrender to Him is acceptable.

Too often we are scared that if we lay it all out for people to see (like Jesus did) then no one will want to follow Him.  My fear is that because of our easy believe-ism methods of "salvation", our churches are being filled with people who think they are saved because they raised their hand or intellectually agreed to the claims of Jesus, when in reality they are as lost as the day they were born.

Is there any basis for this kind of thinking?  Is it really possible that a great number of our church members are not really followers of Christ at all?  Or am I just being an alarmist?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ -- Matthew 7:21-23
Jesus isn't talking about pagans and outlaws in this passage.  He is talking about people who lived their lives believing that they were following Him and serving Him when in reality they were doing neither.  What a terribly tragic thought!  There will be people who stand before Christ one day who attended our churches, who served in the nursery, who sang in the choir, who led ministry teams, who Christ will turn away because He never knew them.


We must proclaim the whole gospel so that the Holy Spirit can convict and draw people to the cross.  We do no one a favor by trying to widen the narrow gate.  There is a reason that Jesus said there are few that find it: it isn't an easy way. If we try to make it easier, all we really end up doing is giving people a false hope that in the end may turn out to be no hope at all.



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