One of the most common reasons I hear from people for not following Christ is that God could never use someone like them because of what they had done in their lives. They think they are unworthy and unlovable, unacceptable by a holy God. They may indeed battle with feelings of inadequacy, but I submit that all of the above is really just a convenient excuse for them. I believe it’s not so much an issue of what they’ve done that keeps them from following Jesus, but rather more a case of what they are currently doing. More deterrent than guilt from their past is the prospect of giving up the things in their present.
The call to follow Christ, as He put it Himself in Matthew 16:24, is a call to leave everything behind for the sole purpose of pursuing Jesus with a relentless passion. Leaving everything behind should take care of the objections we might have of what we’ve done in our past. He tells us we have to forget about the life we have known so that we can find new life in Him. No matter what baggage you may be dragging around, the only way to Christ is to let it go. He never made any exceptions for those who had too much in their past. In fact, the more we have to leave behind, the greater our love for Him should be. We are being given the gift of a new life and a fresh start. For some, that should be an utterly overwhelming prospect.
The call becomes exponentially more difficult when we consider not the things in our past, but rather the things in our present reality. Leaving everything behind for Jesus means letting go of some things we cherish at the moment. Following Jesus means our attitude must change; it more than likely means our goals and ambitions will be turned upside down. Our passions and desires must find new avenues of fulfillment. And this is where many will turn back and fall away. Its one thing to leave your past behind for the opportunity for a new and better life; it’s quite another to have to put aside your addictions, your pride, your selfishness or greed. We love our pleasures in life and we have worked hard to achieve the level of success that we have. We are jealous for the stuff we have accumulated. Leaving all that behind for an uncertain future suddenly doesn’t seem so appealing.
Have you been using the excuse of your past to mask the reality of your unwillingness to surrender your present? Recognition of this fact will leave you with a simple choice: do you love your present reality and the things of this world more than the Son of God who suffered and died so that you might find a more abundant and eternal life through Him? It’s not about what you’ve done; it’s about what you are willing to do. Are you willing to let go of what you’re currently doing and sacrifice it all for the honor of following Jesus? Do you trust Him enough to recognize that no matter what you have today pales in comparison to the peace, purpose and rest that are found only in Christ? It’s time to come clean and put aside the excuse of your past. You must decide whether He is worth giving Him your life in the here and now.