What if I Don’t?

What if I Don’t?

Luke 14:27-33

Jesus said to the crowd, “Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, `This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”

I don’t know how much help we can really be if our faith is still about us…about our salvation…about our finances…about our future.  We have long been sold a Gospel of self-fulfillment and prosperity as if the purpose of this life is to prosper in it.  We have been sold a superstition that preachers have labeled and enforced as sound doctrine that emphasizes our own salvation and separation and purity-maintenance, and we have been sold it right in the face of a Gospel that tells us that following Christ will cost us everything, a Gospel that outright tells us that in order to find ourselves we have to lose ourselves.  We have been told over and over and over by the powers of human faith and politics that if we just live the right way, God will bless us…as if grace has no place and we are in control of our own futures.  I just don’t remember a place in the Gospels that tells us that this faith is in any way about us.  I thought it was about the world. I thought God so loved the WORLD that he gave his only son.

And the superstitious question that I hear uttered more times than I can tell you…to the point of exasperation…is, “If I help this person, what will happen?”  By that I mean, “What will happen to me, my family, my finances, my status, my comfort, my time, etc. ?” I have seen person after person after person cower in fear and walk away from tremendous need and suffering that they could easily impact because that question led them to think that the cost was too high.  Too high for what? If the person in question was your child and you needed someone to help them, what cost would be too high?  But, “What will happen to me if I do this?” is not the question.  At least it’s not the question that Jesus asked or taught us to ask.  A wrong question always yields a wrong answer. The question that will lead you into the Kingdom of God is, “What will happen to this person if I DON’T do this?” I don’t think that the question Jesus was asking when he looked up that hill at Golgotha to that cross was, “What will happen to me if I do this?”  I think the question he was asking was, “What will happen if I DON’T do this?”

If I don’t take this child in, what will happen to her?  If I don’t shell out for a couple of meals for this guy, what will happen to him? What will happen to this sick person if I DON’T treat them?  What will happen if I DON’T stand up for the people who can’t stand up for themselves? What will happen if I DON’T open up everything I have to make room for others to simply have hope?  What will happen if I don’t use my time off to visit that person in the nursing home?   Or for those of you who are considering ministry as a vocation:  If I don’t take the call to this church full of poor folks that can’t really afford to pay me what I want, who will?  What will happen if I DON’T take this call?   This is a faith where you have every earthly thing to lose…and every heavenly thing to gain.  If you answer this kind of question, the road will become hard.  But your life will have an impact.  The breaths you take will matter to the one who gave them to you.  Listen to me for a second.  YOUR LIFE AND BREATHS WILL MATTER.  You will act on Jesus’ behalf, and your fate and future will truly and completely be in God’s hands.  Isn’t THAT the nature of faith after all?  Change the question and see where it leads you today.

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3 Comments »

  1. Sam Said:

    Max I love your opening line! I think you are talking about discipleship and the nature of discipleship. We have worked the system to the point where we turn discipleship into a “what’s in this for me” decision. If it will benefit me then I will do it…if not, then let’s get a committee to talk about it for a while. Discipleship is not about me it is about being faithful.

    • Sam, I agree that faith is not about us…but it MIGHT be about your new hat I saw you sporting in some pretty nice pictures on FB. You are definitely not about working the system, my friend, except where it can help us to help others. And that is just part of what makes you AWESOME!

  2. […] What if I Don’t?. […]


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