Give Up Your Idols, Step Out of the Crowd and Follow Jesus

Step out of the crowd. Go against the zeitgeist. Be unafraid to be different.

Christ Pantocrator, Holy Trinity Monastery, Meteora, Greece
Christ Pantocrator, Holy Trinity Monastery, Meteora, Greece (photo: ‘Janmad’, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Most Christians want a comfortable enough, get-out-of-jail-free kind of faith.

They want to go to heaven, but not now. Heaven is for the distant future, when they are very old and die in their sleep after having dozed off in front of the television.

The best of them go to Mass on Sundays and drop a twenty in the collection plate as it passes. They may even read their Bibles and say a quick prayer before grace.

But Jesus, the radical revolutionary who overturned tables and cast the money changers out of the Temple, who called the Pharisees "blind guides, leading the blind," that Jesus is more than they want.

They are both afraid of and unwilling to follow the history-changing Jesus who moves societies by moving individual human beings.

They resist and even denounce the Jesus Who radicalizes His followers' minds with counter-intuitive teachings such as "Blessed are the poor," and "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” They don’t like the Jesus who said "You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

That Jesus, the Christ, the God made human who calls us to be more than the petty greed and selfishness that is humankind's pit in which we all wallow, is not at all to their liking. He is, at best, uncomfortable. At worst, He is convicting in ways they refuse to be convicted.

There are sins we readily denounce, and sins we love so much we are willing to denounce the priest who preaches on them and deny the Christ who judges us for them.

We don't much want the Jesus of the Book. We want the comfortable, easy, other-people's-sins-are-the-only-sins-that-matter Jesus that we can trim and shape to fit our lives and our politics so that we never feel a twinge of personal remorse or regret for any of our pet sins.

We do not want and will not accept the real Jesus who told the power brokering priests of His day that prostitutes and tax collectors would enter into the Kingdom of Heaven before they did. We want no part of the Jesus Who told the rich young man to sell all he had, give it to the poor and then come and follow Him.

The truth is, we want to walk past Lazarus. We want to do it because walking past suffering is a whole lot easier than stopping and stooping to care.

Following Jesus has a price that very few Christians are willing to pay. Following Jesus means going against the zeitgeist, stepping out of the parade and being different. It means not doing the popular thing, but choosing to do the right thing, instead. It means being inconvenient, both to yourself and to those around you.

At the very least, truly following Jesus means standing up in front of the gods of this world instead of kneeling down before them. It means walking away from the worship of the false idols of politics, wealth, power and fame and following Him. It means being an outlier in a society that demands absolute conformity with one viewpoint, one way of living and thinking, or the other.

Following a false Jesus who fits in with the world is not following Jesus. It is following your own image in the mirror of your imagination and calling it Jesus.

Following Jesus, actually following Him, is a radical commitment to the One Who made you. It is a love affair with the infinite. It is the first taste of transcendence.

You cannot follow Christ and walk the way of the world. You cannot do it. You cannot say to Him, "First, let me follow my political demagogue, first, let me make my millions, first let me get this promotion, or have this adulterous affair, then I will follow You without reservation."

He will tell you, as He told the rich young man, "Give up your false gods of this world. Give it away. Then, come, and follow me."

And if we refuse, as the rich young man did, He will be saddened, as He was saddened then, but He will let us go.

Think on that. He will let us go. 

We choose, and if we chose wrong, He will let us go. 

Walking away from Him is as easy as that. We can still be what the world thinks of as good people. We can still be what we think of as a good person. But we can walk away from Him. And he will let us go. 

God doesn't force us to pick up our cross and follow Him. He asks us. And if we say "no," He lets us go our own way. 

Heaven is a place for volunteers. There are no draftees who enter those gates. We go to heaven because we choose, or our own free will, to follow Him. We give ourselves, our lives, our treasure, our will to Him. We do it freely and of our own volition or we do not do it at all.

Eternal life is a free gift. We choose it. Or we don't. 

Give away all you have, and come, follow me. 

Give up your false gods, your little idols that come between you and following Him with the radical followership that alone will change the world. Whatever you love more than you love Him, give it up. And follow. 

Step out of the crowd. Go against the zeitgeist. Be unafraid to be different. 

And follow Him.