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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Your Excuse for Not Following Jesus

We follow Jesus for a reason. We do not need an excuse. However, we will need an excuse if we choose not to follow Him

I never cease to be amazed when people make us excuses for not following Jesus. They think these reasons are practical and excuse them from following Him. They believe they can be just as committed without following Him. They believe they can blame their disobedience on others and stand righteously before the Lord. They are wrong!

Take the excuse of someone hurting their feelings at church, for example. This one resonates with immature people. It goes this way: Sometime in the past, someone at church hurt my feelings. They did not vote me into a position I wanted or they did not let me serve where I wanted. Therefore, I can justifiably say that I will no longer attend church. I sure and glad Jesus didn't take that attitude. The people who crucified Him were church people. However, He never stays away from church. He keeps coming even though the people don't recognized His importance to be at church. Staying away from church because someone has hurt you won't hold water when you stand before the Lord.

How about the excuse that the church is full of hypocrites? This one says that the absent person doesn't want to be associated with people who say one thing and do another. This person is saying that he or she doesn't want to be corrupted by the hypocrites at church. That assumes that the absent one must be better than the people at the church. How hypocritical is that? Church should tell us that none of us that none of us is better than any other as we stand before the Lord. We are sinners who have been forgiven. We are not perfect. No one who ever comes to our church is perfect. How does staying away from church positively affect the absent person?

Some people stay away from church because they say that no one there cares about them. They were active members at one time but started missing occasionally. Eventually, they were missing every week. Now, they blame the fact that the church has not made contact with them as their reason for being absent. Does the lack of police justify robbing the bank? Does the lack of auditors give people a good reason for embezzlement? Why would the lack of contact give a person a reason for not coming to church? Who has the most responsibility: the person choosing to be absent or the already overworked members who have to make contact with the absent person?

One of my favorites is the "I don't like the preacher" excuse. For any number of reasons the person says he or she doesn't like the preacher. It may be that he called this person by the wrong name or forgot to ask about their ingrown toenail or that he failed to visit this person at the hospital. It really doesn't matter, does it? These people don't follow Jesus. They follow the preacher. They think that staying away registers their protest. They think it hurts him. It does, but they are hurting themselves more. The Bible tells us to pray for those whom we don't like. The best place to do so would be coming to church. Sincere prayer may not remove the preacher's feet of clay but it will reveal his heart. It would be better to join another church than to stay away from the one where you don't like the preacher.

What about the "as soon as I get some things done I'll be back at church" reason? Here the person tells the church that he will be back as soon as he can do the things needed around the house or get some things done at work or take care of a sick loved one. Each of these excuses seems somewhat reasonable until you realize that this person is saying that they need to get some thing done without Jesus so that they can come to church because He won't make much of a difference anyway.

One of the top reasons people don't follow Jesus is that the church won't do what they like. They aren't coming back until the organ is played louder (or softer) or until the hymnals are being used for every song or until offering is taken in the middle of the service or any other "until"  that satisfies them. They will actually justify this by saying, "It isn't worshipful to do things this way." They don't realize this is just the way they were accustomed to worshiping. It isn't sacred to do any of these things any certain way. These people think of themselves as consumers rather than servants. They know that consumers are always right. They know that consumers can demand what they want or they can choose not to shop there. How wrong is this?

The other immature people at church think that these are all good excuses but Jesus doesn't. Just read the following reasons for not following Jesus. Do they look like good excuses to you?

Luke 9:57-62 (NIV)
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 59 He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." 60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." 62 Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

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