- Matthew 12:30 “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”
- Mark 8:34 “And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'”
- Luke 9:60 “But He said to him, ‘Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.'”
- Luke 9:62 “But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'”
- Luke 14:28 “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?”
HE WHO IS NOT WITH ME IS AGAINST ME
Life is like a giant game of dodgeball. Stuff flying everywhere. Not only do you have to be aware of the immediate attacker, you have to have “field vision” to see a ball coming at you that comes from the side or bounces off somebody else. You grab your weapon of warfare and hurl it toward the enemy. At times, you gather with your teammates and create a strategy of attack. Other times, it’s every man for himself in an all-out dodgeball blitz.
But never, ever, ever do you throw a ball at your own team. If you intentionally hit your own teammate, it won’t be long until the rest of your team gets you out as well. You are too big of a risk. If you are on the court, you could turn on a teammate at anytime. By getting you out as well, the team re-establishes trust and unity.
Life is like a giant game of dodgeball. We want to know who is on our side and who will attack us. We like the big line in the middle that separates sides. And we like when we can identify our teammates. We long for unity among the team and coverage when the attacks come hard and fast. There are rules that everybody agrees to follow, and we like that.
Read Joshua 5:13-15. What teams did Joshua think were available?
What was the angel’s perspective?
Read Matthew 12:30. What teams does Jesus identify in this life?
We like to know the teams. And we want unity within each team. We like teams so much we create teams where none should exist. We follow the sermon podcasts of certain pastors and anyone who doesn’t like that pastor as much as we do just doesn’t know what they’re talking about. In fact, we may even wonder if they are truly saved. We adhere to doctrines, somethings without actually research them ourselves, and we point fingers at the “enemy” of our chosen doctrine.
We divide families with gossip and slander simply because of annoyance between members. We divide relationships by giving ill-advised counsel. And we divide ourselves by believing the lie that we can serve both God and the world.
Jesus and the heavenly host are both very clear. There are only two teams. You only have one choice to make. Either option has associated consequences.
Read Galatians 5:17-25. What are the consequences of choosing the team against God?
What are the consequences of choosing God’s side?
Consider how you want your life to be. Which side will you choose? Remember, you cannot straddle the line of commitment to Christ anymore than you can straddle the line in dodgeball. You must choose a side. And the consequences of that choice are clear.
What is Jesus asking of you?
What stands in the way of fully committing to God?
IF ANYONE WISHES TO COME AFTER ME, HE MUST DENY HIMSELF, AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS AND FOLLOW ME
Read Mark 8:34-38. What stands out to you?
In verse 34, Jesus identifies three requirements of the one who wishes to come after Him. What are they?
Many words can be said to explain all of these things. Really, though, the more words there are, the more loopholes we can dig into this concept.
“He must deny himself”: Jesus uses a great example of the extent of denial in verse 38. The choice is simple, though not necessarily easy. Him or you. Every choice to sin comes down to those three little words: Him or you?
In what ways do you need to deny you and choose Him?
“pick up his cross”: the cross is a brutal device that tortures in the process of killing. Jesus endured the actual, physical cross. His “promise” here is that we will endure the brutality in life as well.
Read John 15:18-27. What stands out to you?
What does Jesus reveal about the life of faith?
He hides nothing. We should know going in that the life of faith will be hard. We will be hated. And we will overcome. But still you must choose: Him or you. Jesus does not promise a life of ease, but He does promise peace. He does not promise popularity, but He does promise that He will claim you before the Father. He does not promise smooth sailing, but He does promise to be there in the storm.
Stop believing the lie that the life of faith will bring health, wealth, and prosperity. Bring your thinking in alignment with Jesus. Count the cost. And when you do, and if you choose to fully live the life of faith, the hatred, persecutions, and storms will no longer surprise you.
What is Jesus asking you to do?