Thursday, September 11, 2008

What does it mean to follow?

Last night, my wife and I had our weekly home group meeting. Our group is made up of 5 couples from our church and has folks that have been married less than a yer all the way up to a couple that has been married 40 years. It's a good group.

We are using the HomeBuilders series from FamilyLife. We just finished up the "Growing Together in Christ" lessons. Session 5 in that series of lessons is called "Following Christ" and has some good Scriptural references and conversation provoking questions about what Jesus means when he says "Follow me."

But when I got down to question #7, I drew a blank. I mean, I literally stared at the question and the white space where my answer to the question would go. I could not think of anything to write down.

What was the question you ask? Well, I'll tell you:
What sacrifices have you made on order to follow Christ?

For 10 minutes, I could not come up with anything. Not a single, solitary thing to write down there. Now, I did have some thoughts pop into my head but they seemed so, um, trivial. For instance, I thought about the "not sinning" things: I don't drink as much as I used to, I don't cuss in front of my kids (much), I go to church more often than I used to. But each time I thought of one of those things, I dismissed it. Those are not sacrifices.

In the discussion last night, it seems that most folks had the same issue I did. No one had much, if anything, written in answer to the question. We had a long discussion on what sacrifice meant and we found several things that seemed like sacrifices that we made in other parts of our lives: someone took a lower paying job in order to have a shorter commute and more time with family, someone else gave up a two income family in order to have a stay at home mom for the kids. But were those sacrifices to follow Christ?

I read what the Apostle Paul wrote:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1 -2 NIV)

I'm now wondering if I even know what this means. To borrow from Andy Stanley, I have all the information but what I need is the application.

Am I taking Jesus for granted? In light of last night, probably so. Should I be? Of course not. Do I know what to do about it? Maybe.

I'd love to hear from any of you that have similar thoughts or that understand this better than me.