You May Never Be Ready | Luke 9:57-62
When is a church ready for numerical growth? Some will say when we have a welcome teams in place. Yep, that’s important. Some will say when we have the music balance just right. Yep, I can see that. Some will say when we have a great pastoral care system up and going. Yep, I couldn’t agree more. Some would argue that we are ready when people’s hearts are ready.
I’m just wondering if we would ever be ready?
Let me personalize it a bit more. When will you ready for what God has in store for you? When will you be ready for doing God’s will next for your life? When I finish my studies, when my kids are off my hands, when I get out of debt, when I feel more equipped, when I feel better.
Let me tell you, some of our revered biblical heroes weren’t ready when God called them. What about Moses. He was raised in Pharaoh’s court, learnt the ways and the language and the insights of the superpower of the day. But when God spoke to Moses, in Exodus 3, Moses had now moved away from Egypt in fear, and was living in hills, married and with kids. God tells Moses that He has heard the cried of His people – the Hebrews – and now is the time for them to be set free from their oppressive slavery. And God told Moses that He wanted him to rescue them.
Moses, who had fled Egypt in fear of his own life, was now being asked to go to Pharaoh asking him to set God’s people free. Moses clearly wasn’t ready! I mean, it would be like an escape Germany Jew being asked to go back to Germany asking Hitler to set free the Jews. Who would be ready and willing to do that? And yet God says to Moses in Exodus 3:10, “Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead My people Israel out of Egypt”(Exodus 3:10 NLT).
Moses, who felt like a lamb being led to his slaughter, told God three times why he wasn’t ready. First, in Exodus 4:1, Moses told God that they might listen to him or believe in him. Second, in Exodus 4:10, Moses told God that he has never been an eloquent speaker. Third, in Exodus 4:13, Moses showed that he wasn’t ready when he begged God to send someone else. With each excuse, God answered how He would support Moses. Moses felt that he wasn’t ready and yet God still called him.
I don’t know about you, but often we will never feel ready when God calls you and we as a church, to step up, to move forwards, to do things that we don’t feel ready to do.
When God called me to ministry, I wasn’t ready, I was too young.
When I was at Bible College, Harry Quick, a fellow student was close to retirement when God called him. He wasn’t ready. He was too old.
When William Wilberforce’s proposed law to eradicate African slavery throughout the British colonies continued to be knocked back by fellow Members of Parliament he felt too defeated and not ready with his failing health to persevere.
Our reading this morning is one of those challenging ones. At face value, it seems that Jesus demands on His followers are quite out there! A man comes up to Jesus in verse 57 and says to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go”(Luke 9:57 NIV). Good for Him! What a guy! BUT, instead of patting this guy on the back Jesus instead starts by saying something about the Son of Man has no place to live. Perhaps, Jesus was saying, are you really ready to follow me, you’ll be sleeping under the stars? Then in verse 59, Jesus asked another man to follow him, but he wanted to go to his father’s funeral. Fair enough but Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God”(Luke 9:60 NIV). Then another said to Jesus, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family” (Luke 9:61 NIV). Again, Jesus said back to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 NIV). Both these statements seem harsh.
The point that Jesus was making was not that you can’t attend funerals nor say good bye to love ones. What He was saying is that often people will have reasons why not to serve God.
I’ll tell you what, there are some pretty good justifications for those who want to hold back their lives because you "not being ready."
I know you got that one sin you can't get over. You'll be ready when you conquer that. No.
I know you got that debt that you're going to pay down that will take you about four years, then you will be ready for generosity.