Skip to content

What will you lose when you gain?

Image from

Jesus has just had quite a run of healing encounters, in fact by my reading He emptied the hospital in Capernaum, and as you can imagine the crowds are growing inordinately.

Then some guy walks up to him – here – I will let Matthew tell it.

Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side. And a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” ~ Matthew 8:18-19

We evangelicals make our altar calls and stir up emotions and get people highly charged, in hopes that someone will come forward with this kind of response.

We will sing “Just as I am” 30 times to give every one sitting on the fence a chance to buckle to the pressure and “make a decision.”

I personally have given altar calls glittered with rosy promises of forever, and charged with fiery images of damnation.

But Jesus? Not so much. Not this time.

Jesus has this man right where we want him – emotionally vulnerable and ready to make promises.

Then this:

And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” ~ Matthew 8:20

Jesus – are you trying to drive him away? Are you trying to offend this fledgling follower?

Don’t undermine your “Platform” Jesus! Don’t ruin your “Klout” score! Don’t you understand the impact this will have on your image? Every follower is precious.

By the Spirit, Jesus knows this man is not a disciple, that he has not counted the cost, and will fail and fall if he follows, because to follow, is to die.

Hear this: To start out with Jesus on an emotional high, without giving your whole life to Him in the process is to set your self up for failure. [Tweet This] This is MUCH worse than walking away until you are ready. Over eager evangelists have filled churches with half-Christians and left the Church looking like the world.

It is not that I don't want to see people saved, rather, I want to see them soundly saved, delivered, healed and truly turned from darkness to light.

Lord, I do want to follow wherever you lead? Will you give me the strength it will take to follow you, to take up my cross, to die daily? Will you help me to lead others to give themselves to You, heart, soul, strength and mind?

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

See you again soon.


0 thoughts on “What will you lose when you gain?

  1. cycleguy

    Good post Ben. I have never felt comfortable with long drawn out invitations and playing upon peoples' emotions, especially with singing all 20 verses of Just As I Am. I never heard of Klout until you mentioned it (now I gotta go get mine...not). I wonder how in the world Jesus survived without social media, having the right platform, etc. Oops that's right, He loved people and didn't give a rip about popularity.

    1. Ben Nelson

      Well said Pastor Bill! When i jumped into blogging, i had no idea is was another social media outlet, and honestly i love the community here.

      But His plan was simple - you're right - Love People.

      Thanks for your encouragement.


  2. bettydraper1947

    Well said Ben. Our ladies bible study just finished Rich Warren, Purpose Driven Life. It has prompted us all to look on purpose for those to love and hopefully witness to. It's not hard really, but one must get into a face to face relationship to really love, get out of our comfort zone. Due to so many programs out there one can join there are tons of ways in the states. Looking forward to meeting up with the ladies after a break to hear how they made the effort to love and witness. It is exciting times we live in, we that have not seen face to face Jesus are blessed. Everyone is looking for answer to the stuff in the world right now, everyone is seeking in some way for unconditional love. Very good post brother.

    1. Ben Nelson

      Thank you Betty. It is encouraging to me that you and your ladies are looking for ways to shine in the darkness. thank you for taking time to tell me about it. That is great!

  3. Larry Who

    We Americans live in vacuum compared to the rest of the world. For us, evangelism is padded seats, plush carpets, soft piano playing, an evangelist speaking about the benefits of Jesus, all of which ends with a sinners' prayer. Then, a pamphlet is stuck into our hands and an invitation is offered to join a church.

    In India, China, and the rest of the Third World, evangelism is based on one point: hope. Those, who have ears to hear turn, and say, "Okay, I'll follow Jesus." It's not usually a long drawn out process. The simplicity of it all has been enough to bring forth committed Christians who know little, if anything, about the Bible. Why? Because it's based on the Hope of Glory, Christ in them.

    Maybe we need to change some of our thinking.

    1. Ben Nelson

      I could not agree more Larry. So much of our evangelism has nothing to do with the gospel and all to do with getting people to join our group.

      I love what you say about hope.

      thanks bro

  4. livinginobscurity

    The altar is more than for salvation, it is a place to meet God either for the first time, or the hundredth time to get more of him. Success is not built on the response because the response has nothing to do with us but everything to do with the drawing of the Holy Spirit. We just provide the opportunity to meet God for whatever the need may be. We end with some "worship" so this is just one more way to express worship to Him, Great post Ben!

  5. bennetta faire

    Well. Maybe I've misread everything again. My observation, which includes my own experience with other people I've known, is that most people get saved--often out of a deep sense that they are "sinking"--and then learn as they go, about what's involved in their Jesus-relationship. I certainly cannot speak for the Lord, but my personal belief is that He's well aware of how imperfect the moment of salvation is--on the side of the one accepting His offer of Eternity and Redemption. Surely He knows that most are going to slide away from Him to some degree, when the emotions settle down and they hear about "cost counting". I don't believe this surprises Him, distresses Him over-much, or deters Him in the least from continuing His pursuit of each one who makes that pivotal decision for Him. My opinion: better to get 'em saved, based on the truth that they NEED JESUS, and let God and the Holy Spirit work out the details of their "walk" with their Savior. Frankly, I've never met even one Christian who received the "contract"/covenant, read and understood the fine print immediately, and signed on the bottom line before the choir finished singing "Just As I Am". It's a lovely and ideal concept.

    And it also makes me think about couples on their wedding day--so many have not thought about, let alone discussed and agreed together about what this commitment really means. 52% (latest stat I heard) wash out, divorce; but God bless 'em, Some of them put their hands in Jesus' hand and learn what they need to as they go along--they work out the commitment of marriage. I believe God takes care of--and Blesses--the ones who fail, and the ones who triumph. Just as I believe the same for Christians who grab onto Jesus in a moment of need or emotional fervor--some bail, and some struggle along to major victory, but the Bible says He NEVER leaves us or forsakes us.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see Him holding an accounting ledger in one hand, and his Shepherd's crook in the other. And that's at least $5 worth, before I move on with my day In Him. God bless you BIG, Ben--love, Cj

    1. Ben Nelson

      AHHH - i typed out a long response and then lost it. Dang - ah well - guess the cyber recycling bin needed some use today.

      You make great points here kiddo. What you have said is priceless and true. And still there are folks, manipulated by pushy preachers (they - the preachers - are my peeve today - assuming i am allowed a peeve now and then) who will manipulate emotion to draw people in, but never actually bring them to live birth.

      it is actually very sad - many will find there way in by getting into fellowship and eventually getting enough truth to turn the lights on, but others get stuck in some hellish religion that takes hope away and parks them in condemnationville, and we don't like that at all!

      Maybe i am misusing this scripture to make my point, but I just sense that Jesus looked at this guy who professed readiness to follow him anywhere, and said - nope - your not ripe yet.

      The piece today is more aimed at those who preach the gospel, not so much about the folks receiving.

      does any of that make any sense?
      thanks for the blessings - that helped big time!

      1. bennetta faire

        Okay. Of course you can be peeved--especially at manipulative preachers; I'm down with that peeve for sure!! And we both know there are evangelism preachers who are "just about the numbers"--quoting how many folks made decisions for Christ this year, on their watch. It's like craving blog stats, only much worse!

        So--you're not suggesting that Jesus turned this dude away, refused him salvation because he wasn't "ripe yet"--Do I have this clear now? Or not? Because I think that's where I jumped up to shout--and probably I just misread you (the problem with having class on a blog and comment box, rather than being in person). So often we see Jesus healing and forgiving in one act (full meal deal)--and without putting qualifiers on folks before He did so. That's what made it difficult for me to think that He'd turn someone away because He perceived they hadn't counted the cost--it sounds way harsh for the Jesus I know. He, more than anyone, understands the measure of our limitations--that counting costs would likely not be in anyone's area of expertise except His. I guess I picture Jesus taking him under His wing--saving him, and helping him learn what's what, day by day.

        And if the piece is just about the wrong-headed (and hearted) preachers--I'll just close with the thought that, even the best of 'em will never be Jesus--so it's hard to make comparisons.

        I hope you haven't torn out all your hair today, dealing with this student, Prof.... God bless you-- Cj

        If I still don't have it straight, we can take it up later. Don't stress out writing comments that disappear--I know you have a life outside of class!

        1. Ben Nelson

          No, no - all is well - and my computer's appetite seems to be under control. Comments are my fav part, because that it does not feel so much like just my voice, and do get sick of hearing myself all the time. (those who know me well are skeptical)
          here is the thing though (and don't quit me here) but there are more than a couple times when Jesus does not welcome those who come to Him, and I can't say Jesus wouldn't do that cuz here and there He did. I spose I could be reading them all wrong too.

          There's the folk in John 2:23-25 where folks were believing in Him but He would not commit Himself to them because He knew what was in them.
          Then there is the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17, who lived a life marked by keeping commandment, and came to Jesus looking for life, and rather than sign him up, Jesus looked on him and loved him and told him to sell everything and take up his cross and follow, and the man went away sad.

          There are the goats in Matthew 25, and the folks outside the gates in Luke 13.
          It is certainly not the only way He treated people, but He did not accept everyone and bring them along bit by bit.

          The rich young ruler one always gets me too, because it actually says He loved the man, and yet would not let him enter unless he came completely. He actually did not accept him just as he was, he said change and we’ll talk.
          It was that story that saved me from a life of religiosity into a life of love with Jesus.
          Ooops – there I go preaching again – and right after I said I didn’t like to hear my own voice. Sheesh.

          Do you see what I am getting at?
          You are so right about Jesus and the grace He has for those who come to Him. Nevertheless can we live with a little tension in our understanding of this Wonderful Man who spoke the worlds into existence? I don’t understand how it all fits together, but I know there are more than 2 sides to this amazing man.

          A glance at the clock says I have said enough

          Love you!

          1. bennetta faire

            Okay. I can't argue when you've got verses, Prof--and what comes to me now, is similar to what Bubba Lar and I were chatting about--that God/Jesus speaks to each of us in different ways/style/manner. He's not a cookie-cutter God by any stretch. So He spoke to those folks you mentioned, in the way that He did--but He hasn't used the same words/technique with me, and I'm so thankful. (I can't help it--I'm just sure the Bible simply didn't record that He followed up with those folks later, and things played out the way I have it in my PBV --that's Pink Bubble Version, turn to the gospel of "sometimes-saint Caddo".)

            My mistake here was in taking the position that He would always treat everyone the way He treats me--which would make him rather one-dimensional, and that's just wrong. My apologies, for the more or less permanent cyber record (I'm replying to this After our emails)--.

  6. mtsweat

    Very good post and observations Ben. I fear we in western culture have done a grave mis-justice to the biblical response to the gospel. We have equated salvation with an emotional response rather than an act by God through His Son's finished work that demands our forsaking everything. God does not invite people into His presence, He commands that all people everywhere repent and believe the good news. It is of course in our interest that He does so, for it is the only path to true life. To gain Jesus, we must loss all else... die, be crucified. If we could just get a glimpse though of how magnificent the gain,then we could say with Paul that everything else in comparison is just street rubbish. The gain is transcendently grander than any of the mud pies we may lose. Thanks for bringing us the authentic gospel good friend. It is the only good news there is.

    1. Ben Nelson

      You are so right - the gain is so big - and i love that Paul talks there in Colossians 3 of counting it all loss that he might win Christ. Thanks for bringing that into the mix. and thanks for your encouragement.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: