Have we truly surrendered all to follow the Lord? It’s a troubling question and one I struggle with as my flesh battles with the Spirit.
In Jeremiah we read, “Then the Word of the Lord came to me: ‘You must not marry and have sons or daughters in this place’” (vs. 1-2). Shortly thereafter we read in verse 5, “For this is what the Lord says: ‘Do not enter a house where there is a funeral meal; do not go to mourn or show sympathy, because I have withdrawn my blessing, my love and my pity from this people,’ declares the Lord.” And then in verse 8 God provides further instruction, "And do not enter a house where there is feasting and sit down to eat and drink."
In this chapter Jeremiah himself is to become an object lesson to his nation. His life is to model what could soon befall Judah. Loss of family, loss of comfort, loss of joy awaited God’s rebellious people. Jeremiah was to become a daily reminder to his countrymen that they too could soon experience involuntarily what he was experiencing voluntarily. But there was hope if the object lesson was heeded. In Jeremiah 18 we see God’s heart. Through the metaphor of a potter, God’s readiness to forgive is made manifest:
Then the word of the Lord came to me, “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”
Consider these questions. True or false: Salvation is a free gift (before you answer, read Ephesians 2:8-9). True or false: Discipleship is a costly pursuit (before you answer, read Luke 14:25-33). For Jeremiah, following God and obeying His will involved paying a price: the price of lost comfort, restricted freedom and personal sacrifice. Jeremiah willingly endured some unusual restrictions in order to accomplish a unique mission in life.
The same applies to you and me! Our Lord urged those that would follow Him to count the cost. Salvation is a free gift and we bless God for that eternal truth. But discipleship is costly indeed. What does the cost involve for you and me? Giving over to the Lord a lucrative business, perhaps? Or maybe surrendering a cherished ambition? What about sacrificing the applause of the crowd (peers)? Or possibly placing on the altar once and for all the lustful attractions of the world? Could it mean allowing God’s grace to defeat the pride of life that beats in my breast and damages my relationships with those around me?
What is it in your life, in my life, that is keeping us from following in the footsteps of the Master? If spiritual surgery is necessary, would you join me in giving God freedom to use the scalpel of His Word on our lives? Discipleship is often painful but always profitable.
Straight Ahead! (1 Cor. 15:58)