One of the people whose works and writings have profoundly affected my view of God, or of following Jesus, and who still inspire me is Clarence Jordan. Clarence was a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in Agriculture, then went on to Southern Seminary and earned a Masters and Doctorate. He was a farmer and a New Testament scholar. In the early 1940's Jordan and his wife found a piece of property in Sumter County near Americus Georgia and founded "Koinonia Farm", an experiment in Christian community that crossed the racial boundaries that so characterized the South of that time.
During this time Clarence approached his brother Robert Jordan, later state senator and justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, asking him to represent Koinonia Farm legally. His brother replied, “Clarence, I can’t do that. You know my political aspirations. Why, if I represented you, I might lose my job, my house, everything I’ve got.”
“We might lose everything, too, Bob,” Clarence reminded him.
Jordan continued, “I remember, it seems to me, that you and I joined the church the same Sunday, as boys. I expect when we came forward the preacher asked me about the same question he did you. He asked me, ‘Do you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior?’ and I said, ‘Yes.’ What did you say?”
“I follow Jesus, Clarence, up to a point,” Robert replied.
“Could that point be…the cross?” asked Clarence pointedly.
“That’s right. I follow him to the cross, but not on the cross. I’m not getting myself crucified.”
Clarence said, “Then I don’t believe you’re a disciple. You’re an admirer of Jesus, but not a disciple of his. I think you ought to go back to the church you belong to, and tell them you’re an admirer, not a disciple.”
But isn't that true of more of us than we'd like to admit? We get squeezed between our professed love for Jesus and "the real world" of work, of money, of family, of status, of class, of rank, of whatever, and that old tempter starts whispering sweet nothings in our ear. And we listen, especially when we're hard pressed. Instead of setting our faces like flint, we gradually turn away from the hard path, the tough places thinking that movement away will bring the comfort and blessings we really want and believe we deserve.
29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God,30 will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”Luke 18:29-30 (NLT)
When are we going to learn that we cannot out give God? When will we realize that the way "forward" means leaving the values of this world behind? When will we follow Jesus past "that point"?
Lots of people are stuck because they use the wrong standard of measurement. Are you faithfully following Jesus? Then let no one keep you from continuing.
But if you are not... if you are primarily interested in how you benefit... if it's always about YOU.
Then go back in repentance to the church you belong to and tell them you are sorry and that you want to be a follower, not an admirer.