Reaching WIDE….Follow Me.

A story is told of a hen and a pig who lived in a farm and heard about a church’s program to feed the hungry. The pig and the hen discussed how they could help. The hen said, “I’ve got it! We’ll provide bacon and eggs for the church to feed the hungry.” The pig thought about the suggestion and said, “There’s one problem with your bacon and eggs solution. For you, it only requires a contribution, but from me, it will mean total commitment!” That’s the cost of true discipleship.
Pollster George Gallup contends that fewer than ten percent of evangelical Christians could be called deeply committed. Most of those who profess Christianity don’t know basic teachings and don’t act differently because of their Christian experience. George Barna found that almost half (46%) of evangelicals read their Bible only once a week or not at all.
Over history there have been many different movements, with many different leaders and with many different followers. From Political movements, to social movements, even religious movements. Even some of the most absurd or odd kind of leaders have followers. In a previous election even Dida Abduba had followers, Jehovah Wanyonyi has followers, Mungiki has followers, Arsene Wenger has followers, Bob Marley has followers, Even those who have been openly been accused still have followers. Indeed it is difficult to contend that we are not followers at any given point.
There is something about followership that gives momentum to a movement of whatever kind. The greater the followership, the stronger the movement and the stronger the leader. This is the contemporary political scene- Bobby Wine and the rest. Numbers give strength and a seeming credibility to what you follow. Some followers are known to go to great miles to prove their loyalty and strengthen the movement- from murder, to protests to dress.
This is also very true in religion and faith.
Martin Luther said, “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.” And for this reason many religions put up fetes of sacrifices and self- inflicted pain or strain to prove their commitment and loyalty.
Today, I ask of all the choices you have, why do you follow Christ, and how does Christ expect you to follow him?
We have determined through the scriptures that Christ has been on the move- His movement is to reach the whole world through his body the local church. Our greatest Christian activity and is to follow Jesus Christ, to follow not just him, but to follow in His mission. But like the pig and the chicken- How do you follow? Do you contribute some eggs like the chicken, or Do you give your life for the bacon like the pig?
We continue to unwrap our term 3 Focus Reaching WIDE. The last 2 weeks we have been painting a picture of what it means for us as Lifespring, the local body of Christ to plug into God’s Mission. We are part of the global movement of Jesus and we are called to play our part.
Scripture and Statistics have proved to us that indeed the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, We cannot plant churches as we know it fast enough and big enough to accommodate the demand of the gospel in our African continent. The Mission is Clear, from the great Commission, we are called to join in the Jesus Mission, To Reach the Lost, Restore God’s world and Reproduce disciples. We must Reach WIDE, where WIDE means- the Whole world, Using our influence being Disciples- those who follow Christ and Evangelism. We must Reproduce.
For this reason we have begun a movement to ignite a culture of multiplication, through what we are calling LIFE Communities. These are even smaller units of the body of Christ, either drawn by geography or areas of interest and are actively engaged to reach the lost, restoring that part of the world and reproducing themselves.
Today we interrogate our followership? How does our followership strengthen or weaken this movement? Are we following like the pig or like the hen? What Kind of Followership does Jesus require of us?
Our scripture this morning is taken from Mathew 8: 18-22
Before this passage, Jesus had performed many miracles in Capernaum including casting away evil spirits and he had conducted a healing clinic where many people brought their sick and were healed. He had gathered attention and a crowd.
Matthew tells us that when Jesus saw how large the crowd was growing, he instructed his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake.
Why would Jesus want to do this? It would seem that there was more than just wanting to reach the people on the other side. Jesus saw something in the crowd that was not right. He noticed that the crowd was more interested in His miracles, than in any desire to change their hearts. They were excited about what Jesus could do for them, but they did not have a heart to become ‘like Jesus’.
It is possible to Follow Christ superficially…
There is a difference between the crowd of believers and those who are fully devoted disciples’ of Christ. Some of the differences might be …
The crowd loved Jesus and came to Him for the help He could bring to their troubled lives. There is nothing wrong with that. Jesus loves people and He cares for their injuries and sorrows. He came as a healer and one He restored people to life. In contrast however, a disciple is less interested in the miracle than the maker of miracles. They want more than just what Jesus could do for them. They want Jesus.
The crowd also enjoyed listening to the teaching of Jesus, but the disciples wanted to think like Jesus and pray like Jesus and be like Jesus.
The crowd wanted a Savior to rescue them from all of their problems. The disciples longed for a King to rule over their lives.
The crowd received what they needed from Jesus and then went on with their lives, but the disciples gave up everything to be with Jesus and to join Him in His Work.
I also observe what I call the dilemma of followership especially for the middle class? Think what this means for your followership?
The poor follow because their needs drive them, but the rich don’t follow because their keep them. Middle class are sometimes the most confused followers. And here are some observations
We want to look Rich but our wealth is superficial (loans and credits) – The poor give because of their poverty, The rich give because they are in excess, the middle class give when there is a deal
The Middle Class want to look learned – The poor follow just because you said so, The Rich don’t follow because who are you to say so- The middle class pretend to be critical, yet they follow. They think they know
The poor grow because thy put in all the work, the rich grow because they buy all the work. The middle class want to grow, but they don’t want to put in the work? So they know a lot, say a lot but do very little.
The poor are present because they don’t have much to do, the rich are absent because they have much to do, the middle class feel they are present but they are really not there. Or they are there but they mind are not there.
The poor stay shallow, so they associate and dissociate quickly- their loyalty is a loyalty of convenience, the rich have deep loyalties, few friends. The middle class want to feel deeply connected with many people? We are most connected, yet loneliest.
The poor are comfortable in the community of small places, the rich are comfortable in the solitude big spaces, the middle class live in a state of comparison and confusion- whether they like the community of the small but want to live in the space of solitude and sophistication.
The poor can keep up with the righteous standards because they cannot afford the expenses of sin, the rich break all righteousness because they have all access to sin, the middle class struggle in their conscience about wanting a little liberty, but wanting to be found righteous at the end of the day.
Let me be honest, Discipleship and Leading this lot is quite a challenge. Their followership is unstable, inconsistent and indecisive and often shallow.
So if we are to be brutally honest with ourselves, Church can be among the many conveniences in our lives. Inwardly we are happy to be associated and once in a while come and lay an egg like the chicken and feel good about ourselves. Church can be because, we want our children to like church.
The result can be the church Laodicea spoken off in Rev 3:15- You are neither hot nor cold.
This Dilemma has ended up wounding many people who could not keep up
Consider then what Jesus spoke to these people, two people who in my view were also some middle class people.
First to the one who says- I will follow you wherever you go- Jesus responds Foxes have dens to live, birds have nests but the son of man has no place to lay his head.
This is the question of Comfort- It is possible that following Jesus will come with some blessings. A good home is probably the climax of the middle class. Following Jesus can be about making a good spiritual home. In the same way we make our houses comfortable, our walk with Christ can be about how I get comfortable in church. So we have our favorites, we will not go to a church where I am not comfortable, I will go when I am comfortable and yes we do not like being uncomfortable- Uncomfortable relationships, Uncomfortable positions, Uncomfortable requests, Uncomfortable teachings e.t.c. We are uncomfortable when things are changed…..e.t.c.
The minute we prioritize comfort we stop to move. Comfort and Reaching WIDE do not go together. When we start getting comfortable in fellowship, we must question if we are still in mission
Following Jesus has never been Comfortable. The disciples were to realize that, Jesus took them through uncomfortable conversations, Uncomfortable places, they touched and ate uncomfortable things, they slept in uncomfortable places….
We must dispel the lie that getting saved is separate from discipleship. It is possible and enjoyable to carry the title saved, but discipleship is an uncomfortable journey into the unknown with Jesus on his mission.
A sure mark of a disciple is a state of discomfort until the mission is achieved. Don’t get me wrong, Comfort is not bad and we will often get there, but comfort is not the end or should not be the priority.
Another disciple comes and says “Let me go and bury my father”
The Second Test is a Test of Loyalty
Of the many things that we value is our sense of security in the loyalties we have developed around us. One of the many tensions is our loyalty to our family and friends. Traditions bind us to keep certain loyalties. So we are often stretched thin to take care of our parents, siblings, relatives and contribute for this chama and that chama, be in this association and that association. It is expected.
The response of Jesus tells us that when He calls us to follow, He expects us to obey immediately. The word: “follow me” is in the present imperative. Jesus is saying: “Today, right now, I want you to follow me, if you can’t do it now, then forget it.”
At another point Jesus, responds to such a question in a very harsh tone- Unless you hate your father and mother and children- you are not fit to be my disciple.
The point is – All your loyalties should look like hate when it comes to following Jesus. Scripture here is not advocating for hate and enmity but a deeper commitment in your followership.
Again the middle class here fall victim- followership can be about clicks. Church can be about keeping a level with my clicks. A lot of our security comes from the ‘we are equal’ status and those who break these clicks are seen as betrayers.
The Cost of Followership is the Cross
In Summary
The simplest definition of a disciple is ‘student, or one who learns’. But it really means much more than that. A disciple is someone who follows a Master. It is someone whose life is shaped by the teaching of the Master. It is someone who becomes like the Master in every way, adopting the values, attitudes, actions, and principles of the Master teacher. In short, a disciple is molded and shaped into the Master’s image.
Jesus dismissed the crowds, but gathered to himself the disciples. Only disciples could carry on with His mission. Jesus calls us out of the crowd and into discipleship, but in order to become a disciple we must do something.
We must cross over with Jesus to the other side. We must step out of the crowd and get into the boat with Jesus. We must commit ourselves to Him, to travel where He travels, to do what He does, and to live with Him as the center of our lives day after day after day.
Jesus lived a life of service to others. He was surrounded by crowds of people wanting help. He spent many sleepless nights in prayer. He depended upon God the Father for every physical need. Even the animals have a place to call their own, but Jesus had no home. His home was in heaven with His Father.
As followers of Christ, we too become travelers on a planet that is not our home. Our home is in heaven with God. We pass through this life, and what we think we possess is really not ours. It belongs to the Lord, and we are simply stewards.
To be a disciple of Christ means you must be willing to sacrifice many of the pleasures of this world. You must be willing to suffer for the sake of Christ. You must be willing to die to self, and to live for others. You must daily take up your cross and follow Him.
Are you willing to pay the price?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it this way:
“The cross is laid on every Christian. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death–we give over our lives to death. The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
A minister was sharing some advice he was given by an aging preacher whom he greatly respected. The old man said to him, “Son, always endeavor to keep your church as SMALL as you can!” That’s strange talk isn’t it?! And that was coming from a man who himself had pastored quite a large congregation. But what he meant was, preach the truth of God’s salvation, and the demands of following Jesus, SO CLEARLY that ONLY those who have counted the cost and are ready to give up ALL for Christ will join themselves to you.
If I ever could be a gift to this community is to model followership and obedience to God.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s