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It’s a simple question. Either you are [A] leaving stuff of your behind to follow Jesus like the people in the Bible, or [B} you are leaving Jesus stuff behind to have Jesus follow you. “B” has become a really popular choice in my faith circles… that makes me feel better because I spent (spend?) a lot of time doing that too. It’s easy really: you go about your plans and your dreams and your life, seeking to raise your status your profile your accomplishments and desires AND you do this while praying deeply and “seeking” Jesus, studying Scripture and so forth… It’s like being in a two person boat and saying, “Jesus you paddle for me and I’ll steer.” “Lord, I can’t do this without you, I need you in my life…if I’m ever to get that awesome Brownstone condo in Park Slope.”
Maybe you don’t want a condo in Park Slope (neither do I), but you have your own plans for your life… The book of James talks about the attitude of saying, “tomorrow we’ll go to such and such a town and stay a year there and make money…” Of course there’s nothing wrong with a person making plans for his life, but for Christians it means that you plan to make Jesus follow you around your plans. It’s a world apart from thinking, “If the Lord wills…if it’s God’s plan, because I think it is, but if not then we’ll do something else…”
Jesus’ plan A is for you to throw everything aside, your dreams, your hopes and ambitions, your pride, your life goals, and follow Him. And this is where things get tricky!
The minute one does give up on one’s life and follows Jesus, he finds a joy and freedom. But also, God starts to send things into the person’s life: sometimes money, sometimes friends and loved ones, sometimes recognition and positions of authority… So it might look to someone as though: this person hasn’t given up anything at all! <– and that’s true… I think it’s impossible to give up more for God than what He gives you in return. Every time we take up our crosses, God in love and mercy blesses us with gifts we were not seeking… because that’s just how He is. But what He tells us to do remains the same: cast everything aside to find and follow what He wants for you…
Practically, what this means for us most of the time is: we need to find our Ministries. The ways God wants to use us in His Kingdom here. Then we make that our first priority in life, using things like our money, our career, where we live, our hobbies and free time, etc – to help promote this Ministry. We are to be Jesus’ hands and feet and mouthpieces, working together with other believers so that Jesus’ presence may be felt by the world.
SO let me ask you the question again: are you following Jesus, or having Jesus follow you?