Matthew Henry says it this way, “How foolish is the builder who leaves a building unfinished because his funds run out before he anticipated. How foolish, too, is the army commander who does not reckon upon the strength of his army before engaging a stronger foe in battle. And how foolish it is for the Christian to say I will follow Jesus as His disciple, and bring with me all of the other things I love more than Him. No, you will not follow, but remain in the crowd!”
If I could restate that…you will remain a consumer, looking to get what you can along with the rest of the crowd that shows up, but you will not be counted a disciple!
Jesus said, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
This is a strong exhortation…give it all away, give your whole life to me, or you cannot be my disciple! Are you doing that? Believer, is this how you live? Or do you give bits and pieces, remaining in the crowd, and hoping that God is satisfied by your efforts?
Now some of you may want to resist this truth right now, but this is what the scriptures say. The scriptures tell us that Jesus wants everything. Every part of us, down to the deepest recesses of our souls…and some of you aren’t prepared to give it. Some of us are daily refusing to bear our cross, but instead seeking more ways to consume from this world, and Jesus is just added to the diet, seen through the grid of that consumerism. You are refusing His call to true discipleship.
So what do we know from the gospels about the crowd? The crowd came to:
Be Fed-Preaching better be good
Be Healed-Make my life better
Be Taught-Give me more information that I can use for my own desires
Be Served-Meet my needs
Be Known-Look how great I am, look how hard I work for God
Be Judges-I am better than them, because I obey God’s law
Be Critics-This isn’t as good as my last church; I don’t like the music; that preacher is ok
Be Curious-I don’t want to commit, but I’ll go on Christmas and Easter…I’ll check it out when it’s convenient
The crowd expects all of the wrong things. That’s how they go to church, that’s how they approach Jesus, and treat faith! They don’t come to serve, but be served. They don’t come to hear and learn, but to be critical…Stop it! Stop reducing Jesus to a genie in a bottle. Stop viewing Him through the lens of consumerism.
I know preaching on television encourages this…send in your thousand dollar seed…make a pledge…give a gift…pray this prayer…and God will do what you want Him to do…that is evil perversion, it is not the gospel, and it will be judged. And even though a lot of us would say we disagree with or even despise those guys, we live the same way they do. We just do it silently, hanging in the crowd, and the crowd will never fully know Jesus, from Pharisee to curious on looker, they will be left wanting.