Do you understand what you're signing up for?

March 16th, 2015

The Lenten season marks a time for soul assessment and realigning with the priorities of God. Just as the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days to confront temptation, the 40 days of Lent require us to do our own fearless moral and spiritual inventory of our internal landscape. As I note in “Renegade Gospel: The Rebel Jesus,” it’s an opportunity to ask ourselves, “Do I understand what I have signed up for?”

Jesus’ encounters with people in the final weeks leading up to his arrest and crucifixion illuminate the meaning of the cross and the cost of following Jesus in obedient discipleship. Almost immediately after beginning his final trek from Galilee to the Holy City, Jesus encountered three different individuals. He invited all three to join him in his journey, and their responses illustrate our own confusion about what it means to be a Jesus follower.

The first man enthusiastically offered himself as a volunteer, saying, “I will follow you wherever you go” (Luke 9:57). Jesus responded, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (vs. 58). In other words, “Do you really understand what you are signing up for?” In the man’s response we see the genesis of a problem deeply rooted in the twenty-first-century church: We come to Jesus offering ourselves as volunteers rather than as servants. In my years of pastoral ministry, I have intentionally chosen not to use the word volunteer. Volunteers serve out of the convenience of their calendars, controlling when, where and how they participate. They say, “I’ll be there as long as I have the time, it’s not too inconvenient, and it doesn’t conflict with more pressing priorities (such as kids’ soccer, a golf league, a dinner party and on and on).” Volunteers follow Jesus up to a point — the point of interference with their lifestyle.

Our comfortable lifestyles are the first points of challenge that Jesus makes when we seek to join his countercultural company of the committed. He doesn’t hesitate to challenge those lifestyles or the values that have become possessive idols.

Lent reminds us we can’t follow the living God in the way of the cross while clinging to lifestyles committed solely to self-comfort and convenience.

Watch our recent interview with Mike Slaughter.

Mike Slaughter is the author of “Renegade Gospel.” He blogs at

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