Jesus spent years disciplining young people. Why then do we expect young people of today to receive and follow Jesus in an instant? Some will point out that his disciples dropped everything in an instant to follow him. The difference is Jesus invited them to abundant life that existed in the now not some future some place else. I think the disciples would have kept their day jobs if Jesus invited them to after life.
Young people want their lives to matter now. Why care about a life that seems only to care about after life? Jesus is about present life not after it’s over. “Come, follow me” is about now.
Now, Jesus knew now mattered more than just now but the disciples did not. That came later…
I think young people of today need an invitation to a life that matters now. They will see, in time, that it matters later too.
Don’t start the conversation with after life or “where will you spend eternity?” Start with…where will you live eternally now? Because following Jesus is their chance for abundant, eternal, beautiful life right here, right now!
In light of all of this, I think the picture above doesn’t make any sense. It makes eternal life something on the other side. The only thing on this side is sin and death. If his main concern was to get the disciples to the other side, why not grab up as many as he could and eject them out of the world of sin and death? Why spend years teaching the disciples to be peacemakers, healers, lovers of God, self and neighbor if all Jesus cared about was after life?
Jesus ushered in new life, new birth into this world of sin and death. Jesus cared deeply about this world, after all “this is his Father’s world.” Jesus saw past the brokenness and dreamed of “God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
I heard someone say we’ve got to reach the unreached so “the world can end.” That’s not the call of Jesus. Jesus wanted to bring the kingdom “neighborhood” of God to this world. Peeling back the layers of sin and death all around him, Jesus saw past “outward appearance” and saw “the heart” of the world. One molded, shaped, created by his Father.
We don’t stand on the other side with Jesus waiting to cross over, “waiting on the world to change.” We stand on this side, right now, peeling back the layers of sin and death to reveal the love, the heart, the beauty and wonder of God.
Following Jesus is about during life not after life. There is no after life without living the abundant life now. God is not zipping us up to the sky. God is reconciling the now. This is where the new heaven and new earth will reside. It’s within us and through us and all around us. Come, follow him during life.