Follow Me: Who’s Your God?

Isaiah 55.1-11

Luke 9.57-62

The Things We Leave Behind by Michael Card

There sits Simon so foolishly wise.
Proudly he’s tending his nets.
Then Jesus calls and the boats drift away.
And all that he owns he forgets.
But more than the nets he abandoned that day,
He found that his pride was soon drifting away.
And it’s hard to imagine the freedom we find
From the things we leave behind.

The sightless beggar, pleading each day,
Catching the coins in his robe.
At finding Jesus he threw it away
And joyfully followed his Lord.
But more than the robe that he left by the way,
The darkness that dwelt in his heart went away.
It’s hard to imagine the freedom we find
From the things we leave behind.

Matthew was mindful of taking the tax
And pressing the people to pay.
But hearing the call he responded in faith
And followed the Light and the Way.
And leaving the people so puzzled he found
The greed in his heart was no longer around.
And it’s hard to imagine the freedom we find
From the things we leave behind.

What have I left behind?
That makes one ask, “What have I left behind?”

Simon Peter leaves his pride, besides his boats
Sightless beggar leaves his robe, his handicap, his “occupation” or source of income
Matthew leaves his greed, his tax collector’s booth

The things we treasure most, the things that we take the most pride in, can be the things that most hinder our walk with the Lord. They are not wrong in themselves, but is the fact they we treasure them more than God – that’s what makes them so dangerous.

The passage in Luke 9 calls us not to worry about where we live. Jesus says that one is not to worry about family – burying the dead and saying good bye. Jesus is not being hard-hearted, but is calling those who would be disciples to give their all.

Wesley’s Covenant Renewal Service says, “Christ will be all in all, or he will be nothing.”

“Don’t look back,” Jesus says. Looking back is regret; looking back is uncertainty; looking back is doubt; it is lack of faith.

Lot’s Wife
I can’t help but recall Lot’s wife, looking back. As Lot and his family are leaving Sodom and Gomorrah, fleeing for their lives, as God is destroying these wicked towns, they are told not to look back. But Lot’s wife looks back, as if to see what she is leaving behind, and is turned into a pillar of salt.

If you are going to follow me, Jesus says, don’t look back. Keep your eyes on me and where I will lead you.

Marred Pots
Jeremiah 18.1-6

We are all marred. We come to Christ with nothing to give. We come with our imperfections. We come with our flaws. We come with our deep hurts and our disfunctions. We come sometimes thinking we have something to offer, but all we have is what the world cherishes, what causes one to “get ahead” in the world, and in the case of the beggar, what the world despises. We are all marred.

Jesus does not call the perfect, for there are none who are perfect. The only thing Jesus requires is that you choose to follow him whole-heartedly, without any excuses. And then he will take care of the rest – you will be like putty in his hands, like the potter and the clay, he will mold and make you; he will form you.

Leaving behind our security
The thing I see the disciples leaving behind most of all is their security. In what do you place your security? Jobs, a steady paycheck, good health, a good retirement plan, an education?

Leaving behind the familiar
Sometimes security comes in strange forms. Maybe it is the familiar more than anything. Wesley Chapel UMC got me a belated Christmas gift – a lapel microphone. They really wanted to have it for me for Christmas Eve, so that I would have for Communion and not have to be laying the mic down and picking it up again. Last week I used it for the first time and Patricia Ritter and I were talking, and I said that I would no longer need the lectern; I could hold my sermon folder as I do here. That sure was a funny a feeling at first. It was like the security of that lectern was gone. I now stood without anything between me and the congregation. We become comfortable with the familiar, even when the familiar is not the best thing for us.

For the beggar (called Bartimaeus in Mark 10.46ff), his security was his handicap. It was the familiar. It was his source of income, it was the only way of life he knew. He threw aside his security blanket, the blanket he probably used to collect coins as people passed by. Bartimaeus threw life as he knew it away. He had an excuse to not work, to not follow, to not contribute to society – he only needed to sit and beg, to collect money, to live off of others. But he arose to the challenge to change – to give his whole self to Jesus, as the scriptures say he “received his sight and followed Jesus.”

Questions for Reflection
~Are you willing to receive your sight?
~Are you willing for Jesus to shine his light upon your life, so that you can follow him, unhindered by whatever of this life that handicaps you?
~What is your security blanket? As a church, what is our security blanket? Are we willing to leave our security blanket behind, and get up and follow Jesus?
~Are you willing to present yourself, as a marred pot, and say “Jesus, take me, make me into something – someone – you can use for your kingdom?

Benediction (Is 55)
You will go out in joy
     and be led forth in peace;
     the mountains and hills
     will burst into song before you,
     and all the trees of the field
     will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
     and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
     This will be for the LORD’s renown, for an everlasting sign,
     which will not be destroyed."

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