Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Not Looking Back

“Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:62

Tozer once said that you know three things about a crucified man.  First, he has left the city for crucifixion took place outside the city.  Second, he is facing only one direction for he is nailed to the cross.  Third, he is never returning for he dies on the cross.  What a picture of the Christian disciple!  For we have been crucified with Christ.  Jesus calls his disciples to labor in his kingdom with single-minded devotion.  We must seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.  The plow speaks of the labor of the kingdom; the warning about looking back speaks of the need for devotion to the kingdom.  Jesus receives no half-hearted, partially-committed followers into the school of discipleship.  He calls for a radical decision to part with the things of this present world and to abandon all in following him. 

We need to rediscover the labor of our discipleship.  The Christian life is not effortless.  We are called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  We must pursue holiness in the race of our calling.  There is no room for inactive passivity.  How few Christians comprehend the labor of the kingdom!  The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Laziness and discipleship do not make good friends.  This labor is so intense that it calls for complete devotion.  We do not have the time or the energy to look anywhere else but forward.  We cannot look around or look back.  We must be fully engaged in the work of our Master.  Our hands must grasp the plow.  Our eyes must look at the field ahead of us.  Forward we must press.  This calls for concentration and focus. 

And mark well that we cannot look back.  The man who looks back is unfit for the kingdom.  Followers of Jesus may be tempted to look back; nevertheless, this means that we must leave anything and everything behind that hinders our work in the kingdom.  We must lay aside all weights and sins that cling so closely and run to Jesus. 

We must lay aside and not look back to our preoccupation with our worldly business.  James and John had to leave their nets and not look back to them in order to follow Jesus.  This does not mean that they never fished again; we know that they did.  But when they decided to follow Jesus, they were willing to leave the nets in order to serve the Savior at a moment's notice.  They were no longer preoccupied with their work.  Jesus told one man that he had no time to bury his father.  He told another that he had no time to sell his field.  He called people to forsake their business today.  They had other work to do.  Christian, you have other work to do; stop spending all your time, energy, and effort in the service of your job in this present life.  Yes, you must work to provide for your family, but do not let your work receive the greatest attention.  Give that to the kingdom of God! 

We must also lay aside and not look back to our excessive love for our family.  Jesus said that our love for our family must look like hatred in comparison to our love for him.  Jesus told one man that he did not even have the time to say farewell to his family before following Jesus.  Our family will tell us to remain in the city of destruction, but we must plug our ears as Bunyan’s pilgrim and cry to ourselves, “Life! Life! Eternal Life!”  We must not allow our family, especially our unbelieving family, to distract us from the plow.  Let us not look back to them and love them more than the work of the kingdom.  I have known Christians to skip church in order to entertain unbelieving family.  I have known others to forgo baptism because an unbelieving parent would be unhappy.  I have known still others who will not speak the words of life to them because it would disrupt a family gathering.  Where are our priorities?  Are our hands to the plow or are we looking back? 

We must also lay aside our love of comfort and convenience.  Foxes have holes and birds their nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.  We cannot expect the life of discipleship to be easy.  Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.  Jesus did not promise us a bed of roses but a cross of nails.  So let us not look back to the life of comfort, pleasure, and convenience that we could have if we were not following Jesus.  Let us not envy those who make a bed on earth only to wake up in hell.  What a plague this is on American Christianity!  We must not pursue the American Dream and the narrow path.  They are mutually exclusive.  We cannot serve God and money.

We must keep our hand to the plow.  We must not look back.  To whom shall we go?  The Lord Jesus alone holds eternal life.  Today recommit yourself to your King and his kingdom.  Remember that King Jesus is worthy of every sacrifice!  Keep your hand to the plow, brother!  Stay focused, sister!  Do not look back!  What is behind you holds no promise for you.  There is only promise in what is ahead of you: Jesus, righteousness, joy, and the kingdom!

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