Today's post was inspired by a book I read recently called Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. If you like the post, you'll love the book!
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole idea of "following Jesus” and what that really means. Am I a follower or not? Sometimes I wish Jesus would just make it simple and say “Following me = __________.” Just tell me what to do God and I will do it and then I’ll know I am fine and I can go on with the rest of my day.
But following Jesus is about more than just doing a task or finishing a chore. It is about life and how we live it, every single day. It is a conscious decision to follow Him at work, at home, at the gym, in front of my computer, behind my friend’s back, even while stuck on Route 66.
So how then do I know if I’m on the right track?
The other day I was reading Luke 5:1-11 – the story of when Peter became a committed follower of Jesus. The final verse hit me hard, “So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.”
Jesus does give us a definition for following Him. FOLLOWED HIM = FORSOOK ALL. The two are directly proportional to one another.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that following Jesus has less to do with what we DO give up, and more to do with what we DON’T give up. In other words, what Jesus looks at isn’t necessarily what are you sacrificing for His sake, but rather what you refuse to sacrifice for His sake. That is much more telling.
Up to this point in his life, St. Peter was “half-way” committed to Jesus. He was “half-way” following Him and by the same token he had “half-way” forsaken things in his life. He would follow Jesus after work or on weekends, but he was still living his own life when Jesus wasn’t around – as evidenced by his fishing business.
However, after experiencing this miracle in Luke 5, Peter was done with fishing and business. Think about it: Jesus just did the greatest miracle a fisherman could hope for. He just showed that He could make fish out of nothing. And remember that each of those fish was not just a fish. Each fish was a dollar bill sign in Peter’s eyes. His job was catching and selling fish. So therefore, when Jesus brought in the mother-load of all fish, that meant a huge payoff for Peter and his business. And he could also probably cash in on the marketing opportunity created by the miracle as well. This was it for Peter…he’s about to make it big time!
But that’s when the Bible says “So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.”
Following = Forsaking. The two go hand in hand and are directly proportional to one another. We try to follow without forsaking – or at least without forsaking all. We find things that are easy to forsake and give those up and say “Look Jesus. See how much I love you?”
But the truth is that there are things that we refuse to forsake. There are things we hold on to and keep away from Him. And until we forsake all, we will never be able to follow completely. What does that mean practically? Quit our jobs? Join the monastery? Sell our iPhones??????
Let me throw out some areas that I struggle to forsake and give to Jesus:
1. Give Jesus my SINFULNESS AND STRUGGLES. Instead of just giving Him excuse after excuse and trying my best and falling short every time, when was the last time I went to Jesus and said: “I am a sinner Lord. I can’t help myself. This sin is too big for me Lord. Help me!” That is actually the first thing Peter did in this story after the miracle – “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Luke 5:8.
2. Give Jesus my FUTURE AND ANXIETIES. Peter had no idea how he would be eating dinner tonight or paying the bills tomorrow. But he chose to focus on the Lord’s provision, as opposed to his lack. Without Jesus, your future may be bleak; but with Him there’s always hope. The Lord will provide.
3. Give Jesus my BLESSINGS AND SUCCESSES. That is what Peter did. The greatest catch in the history of the fishing world and he did what with it? “So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.” He left not only the fish but also his boat. In other words, he forsook everything. He took the blessing of God and gave it back to Him and used the rest of his life for the work of God.
Picture two piles in your life: one pile is all the things that you have given to Jesus. That is great. But the other pile is the things that you have NOT given to Jesus. Picture yourself having a discussion with Jesus about that pile. That is the one He is concerned about.
Discussion: What do you struggle to forsake? What has helped you before in the process?