Let’s say a Madison Avenue ad agency decided it was time to advertise the benefits of becoming an authentic follow of Jesus. They gave the project to a slick pitchman and asked him to write a 60-second ad for TV. The agency told him the ads should resemble medications, drugs, and healing treatment ads already on TV. They told him to toss in a few scripture references from the Bible to make the ad sound more authentic. And they told him to include all the disclaimers, like the other medication ads did.
I don’t know what the pitchman would script as the benefits of being an authentic follower of Jesus. I doubt if he (or anyone else in his agency) would have an inkling about what following Jesus means.
He might say things like, “You get to go to church. You get to pray. You get to read the Bible. You get to shout and lift your hands. Take a power nap during the sermon. You only have to be a Jesus follower one day a week. The rest of the week you can enjoy your life and feel good about yourself because you have a little Jesus. Remember John 3:16 and Hezekiah 4:11.
“And, here’s the best part. As a bonus, if you agree to follow Jesus today, during this special evangelistic TV offer, and start giving the church a little money, you’ll receive a tax write off at the end of the year. At no extra cost! The more you give to the church, the more your write off will be at tax time. Don’t wait. Call the number on your screen now. Operators are standing by 24/7 to help you follow Jesus!”
But then come those disclaimers. He’s gotta write about the downside. He’s required by law. Have you heard one of those ads for some medicines or wonder cures on TV?
“Applying Acme Lotion may cause dizziness, fainting, high blood pressure, cramps, varicose veins, excessive bleeding, migraine headaches, scarlet fever or an onset of amaxophobia, depression, ergophobia, back ache, nausea, pogonophobia, thoughts of suicide, temporary blindness and loss of hearing, spectrophobia, drowsiness or male-pattern baldness. In some cases death and total paralysis have been reported. If you experience any of these symptoms, take two aspirin and call your doctor in the morning. Do not apply Acme lotion if you are allergic to eggs or if you have not had a rabies shot within the last five years.”
The side effects of most of those medications they advertise outweigh the benefits by about nine-to-one. Someone considering using Acme lotion should weigh the benefits against the cost. Prospective Acme Lotion users must decide whether using the lotion is worth the physical, emotional, medical or psychological price they might have to pay.
Becoming an authentic follower of Jesus comes with a price as well. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23.
For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:35-39.
In other words, becoming an authentic follower of Jesus means He wants us to love Him more than we love anyone or anything else in the world. Authentic followers of Jesus must be willing to forsake any and everything they have to follow Him.
Count the cost, folks.
What price are you willing to pay to be an authentic follower of Jesus? It’s not easy. We can lose our job, we can be demoted, we can be fired, we can lose our spouses, our children, our neighbors. We can lose our house. We may even lose our lives.
Habakkuk speaks to what happens when everything else is gone.
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines; though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food; though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, (Cost) yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” 3:17-19 (Benefit)
What would we do if we lost everything and everyone we loved in our lives? The choice we make will determine whether we are authentic followers of Jesus or not. Are you willing to give up, to sacrifice, everything you have to follow the Sovereign Lord of your life?
Talking about sacrifice and losing is not in an ad agency’s blood. In fact, it’s not even on their radar. No agency in the world could write an ad that even hints at what it means to follow Jesus. Ad agencies are in, and of, the world. They cater to, and profit from, a materialistic decaying, godless, self-is-king, sex-crazed, got-to-have-it-right-now culture.
God’s word tells us what it means and how much it will cost us to be authentic followers of Jesus.
Let’s ask ourselves:
- Am I willing to pay the price to be an authentic follower of Jesus?
- Am I in the game, or am I sitting in the stands?
Here’s an ad for you:
Pay the price to become an authentic follower of Jesus. The wages are horrible. But the retirement plan is out of this world!