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:
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.
- Three more reasons coming in the the next three days...so keep checking back - and feel free to comment!