“Groupie” is one of those invented words in the English language. It came out of the world of music where certain people were avid followers of a particular group or musical celebrity. They are notorious for idolizing their target of affection, wanting to follow and see and be with that idealized personage as much as possible. They want to be a part of the flow and energy surrounding the celebrity and his sea of followers.
At certain times, such as we will see today in Luke 14, Jesus looked out at the people following him and knew he was surrounded by fickle groupies. They would be there so long as the miracles brought about healings and the food multiplied from a wee basket of bread and fish. But when the cross came into view, they were sure to disappear.
It is easy to be a Jesus groupie in 2015. We love him when he takes good care of us – gives us health and provision, meets our felt needs, answers our obviously high-minded prayers, etc. But will we stick with him when, like him, we must carry a cross of suffering because of sin in a fallen world?
In the previous chapter of study this week (Luke 12), the issue is to NOT depend on riches and human effort and achievement; but the lesson for today is the opposite end – to understand that there is a cost of discipleship. We must be willing to carry the cross at times.
Here is the passage from Luke 14:
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
This discussion brings up that very troubling word for Christians in 2015 … commitment. In my nearly 40 years now of church work, I have certainly seen an erosion of such. And I wonder what the greater ridicule of the faith by the broader culture, and even some persecution, may do for the family of faith. It may well purify it; and that wouldn’t be such a bad thing actually.
So here is my question for today, the third question of this week:
Week 2, Question 3 – What do you find yourself holding onto or are fearful of losing that keeps you from an all-out following of Christ, regardless of the cost?
We’ll talk about some of these ideas tomorrow, while also thinking about the nature of the more difficult days in which we live.