Jesus took some radical stands, and while I think most of us would answer correctly on the “was Jesus radical” true/false question on an exam, I don’t think most of us pay attention to his more painful commands. “Radical Jesus” is all well and good, as long as the “home” He hit’s close to isn’t mine.
This is the Jesus we don’t like, because He interrupts our lives and makes us run against our nature.
If anyone comes to Me [Jesus] and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be My disciple.
-Luke 16:26 HCSBFirst of all, this is obviously an example of hyperbole on Jesus’ part. The point of this statement is not to actively harbor animosity towards your family, but it does speak to priorities in our lives. Priorities that most of us get exactly wrong.
How do we respond when a church leader approaches us about missing church:
- “We visit my parents every 6-weeks or so, so that’s why we miss…”
- “Oh, I go hunting/fishing with my dad during that season, it’s good bonding time for us, that’s why I wasn’t there a few weeks in a row…”
- “My wife had a stressful week with the kids, so we just stayed home.”
- “My husband doesn’t attend church, so I can’t always make it”
- “I’m retired and loving it! Now I travel and enjoy what I’ve earned.”
- “Mom’s in a nursing home, Sunday is the only time I have to visit her”
- “I can’t teach Sunday School, we have our grandkids about once a month”
- “We can’t make it on Wed. nights because our kids have sports/dance”
- “Our kids are so busy with school and other activities.. we can’t add more.”
And these are only talking about simply showing-up to church… there’s so much more to being Jesus’ disciple. If we can’t even show-up, how will we ever get to the truly important things?
Have we taught the last few generations of Christians: “church is optional?” How can we justify that in light of Jesus’ words?
Where are our priorities?
When we travel or visit family/friends, do we use Sunday as a “travel day” so as to not miss work? Do we even visit a sister church when we’re on the road? Why is it okay to miss 25% (or more) of our Sunday meetings, but if we missed that much work we’d be fired?
“but they won’t pay me if I don’t show-up to work…” Does that make our jobs more important than communion/ministry with/for our own church body?
Was this maybe what Jesus meant when He said: “You can’t be slaves to both God and money.” [Luke 16:13]? I think it was.
“But my family depends on my paycheck…” Sure, but do we have houses bigger than we should, newer and more cars than we ought, debt that we shouldn’t have… I would suggest that if we are not able to somehow materially serve through our own local church family as a result of the demands of life, we’ve made too many decisions that had something other than Jesus at their core. This is not “hating” other things (even people) in comparison to the centrality of Christ in our lives.
What we’re saying (whether we admit it or not) is “well, I can live without being consistant at church, but I can’t live without my paycheck…” Consistency in attendance at church is certainly not equivalent to faithfulness to God, faithfulness requires much more, so if we can’t even show up regularly… (hopefully you get the idea)
And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
-Heb 10:24-25How can we show concern for others in our church if we aren’t there? How can we know how to encourage one another to serve, if we ourselves aren’t around enough to serve? Why do we fall into the bad habit of putting other things/people (good things/people) ahead of Jesus and His mission through our churches?
There is a “commitment deficit” that is pervasive in our culture today, and we all suffer from it. College is getting easier, more people work from home and set their own hours, and it seems that we are allowed to be more concerned with our own happiness now than ever before. Church is something we think more about “what do I get out of it” instead of “where can I invest.”
Investment takes consistency and substance over an extended period of time.
What if you committed to teach Sunday School and not miss (unless providentially hindered) a single Sunday in 12 months! Is that radical? More radical than “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” [Luke 9:23]? That’s only a weekly commitment.
What if you took the time to find 4-5 people 10-15 years younger than you and you met with them once a month for 3-4 hours to show them how to follow Jesus in real life? Have you had the consistency of Christian walk to benefit them? Do you have it now? Or are you too busy with balancing work/spouse/kids/grandkids etc…?
I’m not saying I have this figured out, far from it, but I’m trying to learn how to do this. The next generation (millennials) realize that family is important… What I fear, however, is that we are setting them up to turn their families into idols who keep them from laboring for the Great Commission. Every time you skip church to visit with your kids/grandkids you are reinforcing their belief that family is more important than anything else… and that’s simply not in-line with what Jesus said.
What are some things that we need to give-up in order to serve the kingdom better together?
What are some things that get in the way of you putting Jesus and His work #1 in your life?
How can we combat this in our churches?