As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62
What an incredibly challenging yet exciting message here. If we were to check our thoughts, actions and decisions against this measurement – “Am I putting Jesus first?” – what could be the outcome of our lives this year?
For many this simply means a daily check of ourselves and motivations in the context of His presence and His Word. Small daily adjustments to ensure Christ remains our highest motivation makes not just the greatest difference but ALL the difference in life.
For some people to put Jesus first may mean a cutting off of something that is hindering. An old habit, something that preoccupies our every spare thought, a regular default behaviour we know is not right. Dropping these in favour of a new framework of thinking and behaving places Christ first in our lives.
Paul puts it like this in Colossians:
Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. Colossians 3:10
Jesus comes across different attitudes that kept people from following Him FIRST:
1. ‘SON OF MAN HAS NOWHERE TO LAY HIS HEAD?’
KINGDOM OVER COMFORT – Can you say you love God, put Him first and build your physical world and lifestyle around that. Or would we put our dream lifestyle first and then fit Jesus into it? Material things, can be the greatest stumbling block to putting Jesus first. This is not a comment on whether you have a lot or little – both categories of people can struggle with putting Jesus first in this area. How important to you is your status in life, position in ministry, power at work? When we put Jesus before these things our authority actually increases it doesn’t decrease.
2. ‘LET ME FIRST BURY MY FATHER’
RESPONSIBILITIES: A reasonable request. He’s not saying you shouldn’t go to funerals. But He does know that if there is always one more responsibility you need to take care, one more thing you need to do before you pray, go to Church … you will never be able to put Jesus first. Our emotional tie to our family or friendship circle, can cloud our decision to put Jesus first. I am not saying family and friends aren’t important – they are amongst the most important things in life. BUT Jesus first.
We miss out because we are so conscious of all our responsibilities in life : ‘When I have finished decorating my apartment I will go on the mission’, ‘I must go home for dinner and I’ll see if I have enough time to come back out to the prayer meeting’, ‘When my salary reaches a certain amount then I will be able to afford to give more” … my sense of responsibility can get in the way of putting Jesus first.
He wants our devotion more than our determined responsibility.
3. ‘LET ME SAY GOODBYE TO MY FAMILY’
OTHER PEOPLE. I go to Church to please my Connect group leader, my wife, my children… do we come to Church because its best for our kids, or for us? We can sometimes put other people before Jesus. We are trying to blend in so we end up going to the nightclub we know isn’t good for us, we’re afraid to look different. I’ll just have one more night out with the boys then I’ll deal with the drink problem.
Its not just family and other people we can put before Jesus, here are some other challenges I have found:
Ministries – we live for the latest preaching, events, or worship album. All these are good, even essential, but Jesus first!
Music – we can worship worship songs instead of worshiping Jesus? Lets keep the worship of our hearts ‘Jesus first’.
Answered Prayer – we get disappointed if we don’t get what we were praying for. Suddenly we are in doubt or a crisis of faith. Will we put Jesus first even when a prayer doesn’t get answered as we wish.
I challenge at the start of 2014, I know. But a good challenge, to live the big life of putting Jesus first in all we do. Putting Him at the centre of each area of our lives.
How do we know Jesus is first?
We regularly seek to keep our hearts clean without justifying our actions
We pray like it really matters?
We go to Church because it’s what we live for?
We give freely of our time, money, our gifts.
Jesus First! Believing for an incredibly fruitful year for you and your family.
See you in Church.