“Another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’.”
~Luke 9:61-62 (NRSV).
Jesus wasn’t offering a job, a vocation or a lifestyle back then and neither does he do it now. Becoming Christian is life-ending, so the new life can then commence.
Yet, when we read such a passage as that quoted above and read Jesus’ seemingly terse finding we feel a little estranged to God, surely. Imagine Jesus frowning upon us for wanting to go and kiss our parents or children goodbye? We think of the sacrifices we’re making and surely that’s more than enough... surely Jesus should be very happy with us?
Perhaps we’re getting stuck on a detail here, for that’s not really what’s in focus in the above passage. It’s broader, much broader.
Circumstances Most Often Collude Against ‘Going’ with God
How many of us have promised God: “God, I’ll come if you give me this or that,” or “God, if this doesn’t turn out I’m all yours.” (“God” and “bargaining” do not actually fit that well in the same sentence.) True, I’ve done it—many times—still many years ago now. Still, I, at those times was unfit for entry into the kingdom of God. I wasn’t ready and God knew it.
And then the absolute rock bottom comes for us when the carpet of our lives is pulled from under our feet—we’re alone, desperate, deprived and perhaps self-despised. All we have left is God and so we go to God, now, without reservation. God’s our last resort.
It took the right circumstances to come about for us to see our need of God—a need, mind you, that was always there. But previously we could not see it for the life of us.
The Kingdom – Not a Place for the Duplicitous
The kingdom of God is not for the soft-at-heart so far as commitment to God is concerned. We’re very quickly found out if we enter half-heartedly... we don’t fit and it never feels right. Drudgery it is, at best. “These Christians sure are weird,” will perhaps be our inner sentiment.
Jesus knows that for our own sakes we need to come full of vigour for growth in the Spirit.
To be party to the kingdom of God here and now, on this earth, we need to understand that this involves church, a commitment to discipleship and growth, and fundamentally to handing back control of our lives to our Saviour on a moment-by-moment basis, and this primarily via a commitment to serve.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.