Question: I had someone say to me, “I don’t need the Church to be a follower of Jesus!” What is your take on this?
Jesus said we would have to bear a cross if we truly desired to follow him … but when I look out over empty pews on Sunday it’s my feeling that you’re not much of a follower if sleeping in is more important than investing an hour into worship with other believers. A disciple without self discipline isn’t much of a disciple.
Twenty years ago I had this conversation with a man who was very proud of being a veteran. What I thought: the army is gathering and moving toward the front. What do we we call people who aren’t with their fellow soldiers? Either AWOL or a deserter. Which are you?
One or two Sundays missed – maybe that is equal to AWOL – absent without leave. He was a deserter. I remembered that the military tradition was to shoot deserters.
What I actually said: “Troops are trained and sent out to fight as a unit because that’s how we win battles and how more of them come home safe. If you are not with your unit at the front, what do we call that?”
He was not amused.
Your unit is headed to the front lines. Which way are you headed? When did this tendency to go your separate way start – now that it is time for battle, or way back in the early days? If you skipped basic training because it was too hard, skipped rising at reveille because it was too hard, is it any wonder that you are skipping the life of discipleship?
If it is our serious intent to follow Jesus, we should realize that we are not the only person with that goal. If we do follow him, he’s likely to show up in churches on Sunday morning, as this fulfills a promise he made in Mat 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” So, if you think you are following Jesus and don’t find yourself in a church setting on a regular basis, you might be mistaken about the “following” part. He IS always with you – that’s a promise he made – but following indicates you are are going WITH HIM and not the other way around.
But if you think you are following Jesus and don’t find yourself bumping into other Christians on a routine basis with the same goal, it’s likely you are simply deluded.
Sources: Photo by Judy Baxter, courtesy of the Flickr.com Creative Commons license, from http://www.flickr.com/photos/judybaxter/50905349/