Matthew 8:19,20 A scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
As I was sitting in Starbucks a few days ago, a disheveled man sidled up next to me and mumbled something. I removed my headphones apprehensively, not really wanting to engage. He repeated his question that I missed the first time, asking for money for coffee.
I considered refusing, but as I was writing a Christian blog at the moment, I felt a certain obligation to give. So, I gave him enough for a coffee. I considered asking him to sit down to talk, but he was not clean and he smelled a little, so I was relieved when he moved along. Honestly, I did not really want anything to do with this homeless man.
Consider now that this was Jesus sales pitch to the scribe in the passage above. This scribe, or expert in the Law of Moses, was enamored with Jesus, and apparently made a hasty decision to follow him. I would think that Christ should have encouraged the man, taking advantage of the emotion of the moment.
Jesus however, apparently reading the man’s lack of commitment, instead told the scribe that He was homeless, suggesting that the scribe too would be homeless if he followed Jesus. Jesus turned the man away, insisting that he count the cost of following before making some half-hearted commitment on which he he would not really carry through.
It seems bizarre to me that Jesus actually discouraged people from following him. The rich young ruler (Matthew 19) could have funded Jesus ministry for life if Jesus had just allowed the man to keep some of his money. Jesus insisted that his followers crucify themselves daily and turn the other cheek when offended. Frankly, it is surprising that anyone followed at all.
How different is this, than the pitch I have used at times to sell Christ to others? I have, not comprehending the radical commitment of following Christ myself, told others that, All you have to do is say a prayer and you’re in… Just say the magic words and you get to go to heaven… It’s so easy…
Jesus insists that following him is anything but easy. Following Christ means daily death to self and radical obedience to him. I do not think that Jesus wants me to be homeless, but I think I do vastly underestimate how radical of a thing it is to truly follow Christ. I want a little God in my life, just enough to keep me from my really destructive nature. I would prefer to manage the rest of my life.
Jesus however, insists that if my faith is worth anything, it is worth everything. Half-hearted measures are worthless in following Christ. He does not ask if He can be a part of my life. He asks me to daily turn from self and radically follow him. God does not play second fiddle to my other life pursuits. I follow him above all or I do not, in fact, follow him.