When the time came for my husband and I to say our vows, I looked into his eyes, and told him:
“Darling, I want to make these vows to you and dedicate my whole life to you, but… I’m just not ready for that kind of commitment.”
Just kidding, I didn’t tell him that, or else we would not be married! And marriage is kind of a thing people have to commit towards. It’s more than just a want.
There are many things in life I want to do, but really don’t want to sacrifice the time and effort to do so.
I want to get up every morning, read my Bible, journal, read a devotional and practice yoga.
I want to work out every day.
I want to cook amazing meals.
I want to improve my typing and be completely fluent in Spanish, Sign Language, and Korean while we are at it.
I want to have a great marriage,
to be involved with my church,
to do all the things…
But, it’s easy to want things in life, it’s harder to get things done.
Somewhere along the road, we have to decide whether or not we will be wanters or doers.
A wanter wishes and dreams their life away and perhaps even places importance on things that, in the end, are not important.
A doer is someone who counts the cost, makes a plan, and follows through.
In Luke chapter nine, Jesus meets three wanters:
“As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.’
He said to another person, ‘Come, follow me.’ The man agreed, but he said, ‘Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.’
Another said, ‘Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.’ (Luke 9:57-62).
OK, you might be wondering, ‘Melody, what does all this mean? Why did Jesus sound so harsh? I’m confused here.’
Let’s break it down.
In the first encounter, a man tells Jesus he will follow Jesus like his other nomadic disciples. I think Jesus sees through to the man’s heart here. He sees that, even though this guy wants to follow him, the thought of roughing it / living basically homeless and seeking shelter from house-to-house and village-to-village, might not appeal to him.
Jesus sees this, and tells the man the cost of following him, which this guy might not be completely willing or ready to do.
With the second encounter, Jesus calls the man to follow him. The man agrees, but there’s something he needs to do first – he has an obligation to his family and in Judaic culture, burying the dead is a year-long process. The call of Jesus comes at a cost – leaving everything else behind and prioritizing Christ above all, even tradition, culture or family.
The third encounter might be the most puzzling at first glance. Apparently, we can see a parallelism here with the calling of Elisha in 1 Kings 19:19-21 when Elijah allows his new protégé to say goodbye to his family. However, Jesus’s calling is greater than even the call of Elijah (who, by his faith in God, accomplished many miracles and is one of the most renowned prophets of the Old Testament).
If we look closer at this verse, this guy is half-hearted at the start. He says, “I will follow you, but first let me…” Jesus isn’t first on this guy’s list. Which is why the Messiah replies by saying, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Once again, we need to look at this analogy in cultural context. Apparently, while plowing a field, one must look forward and not backward or else the plow will veer off course. In modern day, it would be like trying to drive while staring at the backseat for an extended amount of time or trying to mow the lawn not staring straight ahead. Looking backwards has consequences (see the story of Lot’s wife in Genesis 19).
The calling of Jesus Christ to his followers demands commitment and first priority.
For an example of the doers in Christ’s ministry, read the callings of his early disciples. You will see they immediately left everything behind to follow Jesus.
They chose to be all-in and fully committed, rather than wanting to follow him.
And all of them paid the ultimate cost for following Jesus – their lives. *
In love and truth,
*All of the apostles were martyred for their faith except John, who the Romans tried to execute in a boiling vat of oil according to church tradition but failed to do so and John lived out the rest of his days exiled on Patmos. But following Jesus did cost John his life, in a manner of speaking. He was not killed for the faith, but he lived out his entire life for the faith and suffered persecution.
Copyright © 2020 by Melody Turner. All rights reserved. Written exclusively for MXTV (https://mxtv.org/the-cost-of-commitment/) No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from MXTV.