Ever been on a secluded road and were sure you knew it was the correct road only to arrive at a foreign destination? After reading the title of a magazine article the other day, I'm convinced I must be following the wrong Jesus. The title is alluring in that it promises bliss and happiness rather than stress and toil if one walks with Jesus. Hmmm.
If following Jesus and interacting with Him for a 30 day devotional prayer journey would bring bliss, I'm sure more people would be following Him. Don't misunderstand me here. I believe the 30 day devotional journey is an excellent idea. In fact, I would endorse it. But, as I understand scripture, it is when we choose to follow Jesus that our life gets more complicated. Knowing this journey won't be easy forces us to depend more and more on the strength of Jesus and less on our own power. These few verses belie the notion that following Jesus would be a cakewalk.
"I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when
you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do
not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he
said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:18-19, NIV)
"Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus
replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his
head.” Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow
me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”(Matthew 8:19-22, NIV)
The apostle Paul knew this well. He often talked about suffering and persecution for his faith in Christ. He offered the same to those whom he ministered. Paul's understanding of following Jesus was born out of suffering (Read Acts 9). Paul would later recall all the pain from various tragedies he endured
because of his conversion to be a follower of Christ. Doesn't sound blissful to me.
I'm becoming more convinced the Church is losing its holy influence in North America because followers of Jesus are less inclined to suffer for their faith. It was persecution that actually helped spread the Gospel in the New Testament (Acts 8:1-3). Yet, here in the 21st century, we are conforming Jesus into this warm fuzzy teacher rather than the conquering King who will bring peace to a broken world. We want to follow Jesus only if it makes us feel good. Bet the disciples in the four Gospels feel duped having been martyred for the faith. If they had only known the Jesus of the 21st century.
Review your faith. Test and see if you are following Jesus. Is your life warm and cozy? Are you content and happy 24/7? Or, is there a sense inside you of failing to meet the requirements of being a disciple? If you sense struggle, good! It is in this place that we stop working for our own comfort and begin to work for God's Kingdom. It is here where we begin to roll up our sleeves and perform the difficult task of sharing Jesus with those around us. We do so at our risk, because there will be some who hate us for doing this work. Jesus had something to say about that in Matthew 5.
Take heart friends. Jesus loves us and walks with us. Through good and bad, He is always there. Yes, even when you are on the wrong road.