Maybe You Should Turn Back Now (reasons NOT to follow Jesus)

There are a lot of really good reasons not to follow Jesus.  
Every August, the Discovery channel celebrates shark week. That’s usually my inspiration to celebrate some of the harder truths of our faith on my blog. This is one of them. Following Jesus isn’t nice. It’s not a great hobby or past-time. There are some really good reasons not to follow Jesus and here are a few:
It’s hard work. It requires sacrifice. You have to change in ways you aren’t prepared to change.
In coming years, I suspect it will actually become downright uncomfortable, maybe even dangerous to be a Christian in America. It’s dangerous  now in other areas of the world. So, as a favor to those of you on the fence or thinking this is just a “nice” religion to follow, I’m convinced I should warn you of some of the reasons you should NOT follow Jesus.
In case you’re worried that this isn’t Biblical, let me assure you that Jesus had a habit, one that probably threw the disciples into regular fits of frustration, of warning people away or saying exactly the thing that would be sure to frighten them off from following Him.
Jesus wasn’t selling a product and He doesn’t need numbers to remain in office. He isn’t Tinkerbell who needs applause to exist. We need Him. He knows that better than we do.
Consider the world of coaches, personal trainers and exercise instructors who regularly warn people that they may not have what it takes to be on their teams or in their classes. Then, making the team or class isn’t even the end of the weeding process.
There’s not a football coach on earth who puts up a sign saying he’ll take anyone who wants to play, they can forgo training, only show up for games when they feel up to it, and play any way their heart leads them to play in that moment.
There is no personal trainer I know of who takes on a client and says “Let’s do only enough work to keep you exactly the way you are today.”
There’s no exercise instructor who tells her class she doesn’t believe in judging others so they can feel free to use any form of an exercise that feels right to them. It doesn’t happen.

Jesus was less like today’s television preachers and a lot more like today’s football coaches and trainers.

He said things this:

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 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. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:25-33

Giving up everything you have. Everything. That’s what following Jesus means, that’s what it requires, everything.

I’ve followed Jesus for more than five decades now and all the time I hear Him calling “Are you ready to go deeper? Are you prepared for what that may mean?” The process of following only begins with the decision for Jesus. The choices continue and the questions and decisions get harder.

So reason number one why you should not follow Jesus is this: You’re feeling the need for some religion in your life.

If that’s you, then Jesus isn’t what you’re looking for. There is a whole world of religion out there – many that boast they are pre-Christian, ancient, new age, Eastern, traditional, or inclusive. The a la carte menu of world religions is endless.

There’s even one that seems like following Jesus but it isn’t. It’s more like “Jesus-lite.” It’s the “religion” of Christianity and believe me, there’s a difference. There’s a “rules” version of that religion, too, for people who want checklists and a sense of safety. So, if you’re feeling the need for some religion there are a host of lovely choices out there, go for one of those.

Following Jesus is not a religion as the world has come to define religion.

The life of a Jesus follower cannot be contained in a particular building or confined to a specific day of the week or defined by a system of rituals. It’s not restrained from affecting areas of the follower’s life that do not conventionally fall under the category of spirituality. When you invite Jesus into your business, nothing is off limits. Like the best football coaches in the big leagues, when you sign with Jesus – He owns you, man.

So, if you just want a box to check off on the census or at the hospital when they ask your religion – don’t follow Jesus. He won’t fit in that box. If that’s what you’re looking for, maybe you should turn back now.

If you’re up for more than that – if you’re longing for truth, real hope, participation in something that extends far beyond you, and a future that is eternal – well, Jesus is who you want, my friend, because He’s the adventure.

Some of you have been asking about my next book and here it is! Available for pre-order, The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. It debuted as a number one release in its category which thrills me because it means many people are interested in engaging in the tough, but necessary conversations happening in our times.

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    The Conversation

  1. Ruby Lorraine Hillier says:

    So right on – thanks for this post- Jesus – He is Risen- He is THE ONLY WAY TO THE FATHER.

  2. So true, Lori! I learned long ago that, if I want to be comfortable and be close to Jesus at the same time, I’m being led astray. Jesus came to challenge us, to learn that sharing His message will make enemies, and to show us the healing and changes we make are from the inside out.

    Even so, I crave the love, mercy, and grace He gives me much more than being comfortable!

  3. Jean says:

    So bracing, Lori! I’m in agreement with all of this. Thankful for your sturdy, what used to be called “muscular” faith in Jesus. Looking forward to the new book.