You can’t try Jesus. You can’t sample salvation. Being a Christ-follower is not a product you can fiddle with for 30 days, or a hobby you can explore. It’s not like tasting food or taking a test drive. It’s not like seeing if you enjoy playing the piano. It’s more like jumping out of the airplane with a chute on your back. It’s more like forking over more money than you ever thought possible and signing that final paper for your new house. It’s more like saying, “I do.”
I think that’s what Jesus is getting at in today’s Gospel.
Following Jesus is actually most like the ultimate challenge we all face—being born into this world and simply learning to live life. You and I didn’t get to “try out” life before we were born. We didn’t get to sample being babies, learning to walk, going to school, dealing with zits and falling in love as teenagers, and making all the decisions we have to make as adults. We didn’t get to choose our families from a shelf after having tried a number of other families first. Nope. We got what we got. We were born into this world with no chance to try it out first. No instruction manual was given to us. Just a family to help us, a world of knowledge and neighbors to help us, and a God to be our Shepherd, with goodness and mercy every day of our lives.
- Making a commitment like getting married changes everything. All your relationships, the way you have lived your own life up until now. So does becoming Jesus’ disciple.
- Building a house means planning ahead and making sure you’re ready to go through with a long-term, costly commitment. So does becoming Jesus’ disciple.
- If you’re the leader of a country, and you’re going to declare war, you’d better make sure you have enough forces and firepower to win, because there is no turning back once you’ve made the call. That’s what it’s like to be Jesus’ disciple. It’s a huge commitment with high risks, certain losses, and no guarantees. And no opportunity to “try before you buy.”
And that’s what it’s like to be a Christian with new life in Jesus. In Jesus, we are born into a new creation by grace through faith. Born anew. Born from above. We are brand spanking new creatures in Christ. It’s a new life. A new world. New relationships. New opportunities. New challenges. We didn’t choose it, he chose us for it. We don’t get to try it out first, either. We just take it day by day, learn to walk, and try to grow into respectable adult disciples.
Now, thank God, when we arrive in this new life, we find that we have a family provided for us. A Book to guide us. His Spirit within us. His provision to nourish and strengthen us. His promises and his presence to keep going.
But in the end, it’s life. There’s no trial period, and there’s no turning back.
Following Jesus does not come with a 30 or 60 day trial. You can’t sample it or take it for a test drive. When you take up the cross, it’s like stepping out of that plane. It’s like saying, “I do.”
It’s like being born again, with a whole new world and life in front of you.