Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
No Turning Back
I just entered my teens in the early Seventies when the “Jesus Movement” swept the nation. It was a sanitized version of the Sixties’ peace movement—teens and college kids, guitars, buttons, posters, and so on. At Woodstock-like “Jesus rallies” all over America, thousands of kids gathered to sing folk hymns and hear celebrity Christians like Pat Boone and Dean Jones. The rallies ended with an invitation to those who hadn’t yet dedicated their lives to Christ. As they streamed forward, the rest of us sang, “I have decided to follow Jesus/No turning back, no turning back.” I think about all the young people who attended the rallies and I wonder how many of them didn’t turn back—how many of them really understood and honored the song’s words?
Deciding to Commit
Following Christ is more than a one-off decision. It’s deciding to commit our lives to His way, His purpose, and for His pleasure. Such a commitment puts uncommon demands on how we approach daily life. It reorders our priorities, asking we set aside personal comforts and considerations that others pursue or take for granted. It requires determination to do what’s right in the long run versus what seems best for the moment or easiest all-around. Christ’s path is straight, but it constantly intersects wider, smoother, and more popular routes. Deciding to commit to Him commits us to decide we’ll follow His example, rather than conform to the crowd.
Fit for Service
Luke 9.57-62 gives a fair indication of what following Christ involves. As Jesus and the disciples walk along a road, three different men volunteer to follow Him. He tells the first that he’ll have to sacrifice comforts of home. The second promises to rejoin Jesus after his father’s funeral. “Let the dead bury their dead,” Jesus says, referring to mortal affairs, “but you proclaim the kingdom of God.” The third man asks to say goodbye to his family first. Jesus’s response invites one to imagine Him stopping to look the man in the eye. “Anyone who puts his hand to the plow and looks back isn’t fit for service in God’s kingdom,” He says.
Desires, obligations, and relationships hindering Christ’s purpose for our lives make us unfit for service. “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground,” Hosea 10.12 says. A lot of new ground has to be broken to sow righteousness and reap love’s benefits. And let’s be frank. Going with the flow and listening to others instead of hearing God’s voice make life easier. But living easy isn’t living better. If we desire the rewards of following Christ, we’ve got to let go of whatever holds us back to plow ahead.
A 1973 "Jesus rally." One wonders how many of the kids in this picture are still plowing ahead.
(Tomorrow: New and Improved)
Personal Postscript: So Have We Seen
As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD Almighty, in the city of our God: God makes her secure forever.
Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.
Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with righteousness.
Mount Zion rejoices, the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments.
Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation.
For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
Answered prayer. (Thank You.)