Much has been said about following Jesus, and honestly, there is no other topic worthy of so much attention. The topic of following Jesus does bring discussion, speculation and even disagreements. I totally understand the discussion because following Jesus is the single most important decision one will ever make. The speculation and disagreements that at times follow this topic are a little more confusing to me. It seems to me that Jesus is very clear about what it takes to follow Him. “Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk.14:25-26).
As harsh as His words may seem to be, Jesus is not really asking His followers to hate their family members. Jesus simply desires that we love Him more. Jesus deserves and so desires to be our number one. He wants to be our top priority in life, even above our family members and ourselves. All of this requires from the Jesus follower a sold-out commitment. Following Jesus goes far deeper than twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday evening. Following Jesus calls for you and I to be committed to Him all day every day for the rest of our lives.
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk.9:23).
I’m sure you’re familiar with the cliché, “remember to smell the roses”. I guess it could mean different things to different people, but to me, it’s about taking the time to enjoy life. We must also remember to notice the people. What people? Everyone, from our church family to those we work with and anyone else we come in contact with. We lead such busy and at times hectic lives that we don’t even notice those around us.
One of the things that stands out to me about Jesus is that He always noticed the people around Him. Jesus was busy. There were seemingly always crowds around Jesus with demands for His time. No matter how busy Jesus was, He noticed the people. Not only did Jesus notice the people, He also gave time to them. Jesus was leaving Jericho when He gave His time to healing blind Bartimaeus (Mk.10:46-52). It seems the disciples would try to protect Jesus’ time but Jesus would overrule them by noticing and giving time to the one crying out to Him.
Jesus always noticed the people. As busy as we become in this life, let us realize the importance of people and remember to notice the people around us. It may be a simple smile at a stranger or a “how are you today”. May we be more like Jesus and be more mindful of those around us on a daily basis. Acknowledge them, be kind to them, pray for them and most of all and where it all begins, notice them.
“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven”(Mt.19:14).
It seems we always want five more minutes. As a kid playing outside, all I wanted was five more minutes to play when mom and dad called me inside for the night. When that alarm sounds bright and early in the morning isn’t five more minutes of sleep that you desire the most? When our vacation comes to an end, five more minutes would be nice. When the life of our loved seems to be slipping away, we’d love nothing more than five more minutes with them. There are times when five more minutes are available, but there are also times when we don’t have another five minutes.
I’m sure the rich man would have loved five more minutes in this life in hopes of changing his eternal destination. “The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame. But Abraham said, “Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish”(Lk.16:22-25). The reality for the rich man is his time was up and he didn’t spend his time on this earth preparing for eternity. He didn’t have five more minutes.
We have no idea when we will breathe our last or when Jesus will return. But, one thing we can count on in either scenario is that we will not have five more minutes. Let’s live our lives in such a way that when our end comes we will not feel the need for five more minutes to right wrongs or repent before the Lord. “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes”(Jas.4:14).