Ansell: In order to follow Him we must 'stop thinking about ourselves and what we want.'
There is a story about a blind guy named Bartimaeus in Mark 10. Bartimaeus is sitting on the side of the road begging and he hears that Jesus is walking by so he shouts out for Jesus to have mercy on him. Jesus stopped, restored his sight and then Bartimaeus started following Jesus.
Following Jesus and being a Christian seem to be two different things in our modern-day culture. As we read the four Gospels, we see people choose intentionally to become a follower of Christ, they become His disciple, they sit under His teaching, they adhere to it and they not only learn what the Rabbi does but they do what the Rabbi does.
This is why Peter got out of the boat in Matthew 14. He sees Jesus (the Rabbi) walking on water so if the Rabbi can walk on water so can the Rabbi’s disciples. Being a follower or a disciple was like being an apprentice, the teacher not only taught but they also showed — it’s like being in Ag class, the teacher welds and then the student welds.
I wonder if today's church has turned discipleship into just a classroom exercise. We learn in what we call Sunday School or Bible Study or in worship but we never take the lesson out of the classroom. Are too many of us are reducing that learning down to just making the “nice list” rather than creating a “do list,” or even a “be list.”
I love the stories about the pearl of great price and the hidden treasure that was found in the field (Matthew 13:44-46). I relate my marriage to these stories. I met the Blonde (aka my wife Jennifer) several times before we started to date but really did not remember meeting her at the football game, or at the KC Hall (it was not love at first sight I guess) but she worked with my mother at a flower shop and one day I called my mom to see if a friend could come over for dinner that night and I asked her, “How is that blonde (a reference to Jennifer) doing?” My mother replied, “Ask her yourself” and then she handed the phone to Jennifer. That night we met at a dance, the next day we cruised around town in my 1975 avocado green Cutlass, got a Coke (Dr Pepper) from Sonic and the rest is history.
What I’m saying is I sold out, I pushed all my chips into the center of the table, I bet everything on Jennifer. I loved her, I wanted to spend every minute with her, I saw my friends less, I thought about her all the time, we started spending every evening together and every weekend. Isn’t this what happens when we find and start to follow Jesus? Aren’t we willing to give up everything for Him? Or have we bought into what we used to call cultural Christianity and today we call it nominal Christianity?
Jesus told us in Luke 9:23 that in order to be a Christian, in order to follow Him we must “stop thinking about ourselves and what we want.” We must conform to His example of living.
Eugene Peterson paraphrases this passage when he quotes Jesus saying, “You’re not in the driver’s seat — I am.” It costs us a lot to follow Jesus but the blessings are so much more rewarding than the things this world has to offer. He told me to tell you that.