The Convenient Disciple
The Lure of Convenience.
“Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
It is easy to follow Jesus when he aligns with what we want. We follow Jesus because He gives us the promise of his forgiveness and his providential care. But what happens when the cost of being a disciple exceeds the benefit? What happens when the demands of being a follower require us to give up our dreams and aspirations to conform to his will? What happens when his truth conflicts with our perception of reality?
Christ has previously warned against the dangers of shallow followers, people who give lip service but continue to refuse to obey him unconditionally. Now he addresses those who follow him because of the blessings he promises but quickly fade away when it becomes costly.
Matthew records individuals who came to Jesus and desired to follow him. From our perspective, they all have the characteristics of being genuine followers. The first individual is a scribe. He had already demonstrated his desire to be a follower of God. He was already shown himself to be a spiritual leader of the people. When He comes to Jesus and expresses a desire to follow Jesus, those who heard would have expected Christ to embrace him as a disciple. His statement that he is willing to follow Jesus “wherever you go” expresses loyalty to remain with Jesus through thick and thin. However, Christ saw through the bravado and recognized that he was not ready to pay the price. He was willing to follow Christ as long as it was not costly.
The second individual likewise affirms that he desires to be a follower. At first glance, Christ's response to his request seems harsh and uncaring. Most likely, the request was more than to attend a funeral. Instead, the father was still alive, and he desired to fulfill his obligations to look after his father until his eventual death. But the real issue was not just being a dutiful son; the real problem was a priority. For this disciple wannabe, his family came first and then followed Christ. However, Christ makes it clear that genuine discipleship involves setting Christ as life's highest priority. He was willing to follow Christ as long as it fits his prerogatives.
Christ points out that he desires complete commitment rather than convenient followers. It is easy to become convenient followers of Christ. We attend church when it is convenient and does not conflict with other priorities or obligations. We become involved in ministry when it fits within our schedule. We are willing to participate in church activities when it suits our priorities. We become disciples of convenience.
However, convenient disciples are not genuine disciples. Christ demands our complete allegiance, loyalty, and commitment. He desires disciples that place our relationship with him as our highest priority. We surrender to him the totality of our life, including our schedule, loyalty, and priority. When Christ calls us to “follow him,” that is not a request but an ongoing command. We are to keep following him so that nothing else stands in the way. Everything is to be grounded in and flow from this obligation. A convenient disciple asks God to bless his goals and plans, a committed disciple asks God to set his goals and plans. A convenient disciple makes Christ one of his many priorities a committed disciple makes following Christ his ultimate and governing priority of life. A convenient disciple becomes involved in the body of Christ when it is convenient to his schedule, a committed disciple adapts his schedule around his involvement and ministry within the church. This brings us to the difficulty of being honest with ourselves and our relationship with Christ. Is he the highest priority? Are we wholeheartedly committed to and living in obedience to him, or are we just followers when it is convenient? Christ accepts nothing less than a complete commitment from those who desire to follow him.