God says, “You have spoken hard, rude words to me.
“You ask, ‘When did we ever do that?’
“When you said, ‘It doesn’t pay to serve God. What do we ever get out of it? When we did what he said and went around with long faces, serious about God-of-the-Angel-Armies, what difference did it make? Those who take life into their own hands are the lucky ones. They break all the rules and get ahead anyway. They push God to the limit and get by with it.’” (THE MSG)
One of the reasons so many once apparently committed followers of Jesus stop following him is that they were not committed to him but to something they figured he could give them. Could be business success, fulfilling relationships, mended marriages, healing from sickness, an end to loneliness.
When those “ends” didn’t come, they give up the “means”. In other words, Jesus didn’t come good in the way I expected so I won’t bother about him any more. What’s the use of embracing him if life doesn’t turn out the way I want it.
Similar sentiments were apparently expressed long ago according to our text. Those who don’t bother about God seem to get ahead. Those who take him seriously seem to get only disappointment.
If we follow Jesus in order to fulfil our deepest and strongest desires, we may end up giving up. Jesus didn’t guarantee us all we might wish for in our broken world. He is not some genie in a bottle, ready to grant our wishes whenever we do the right thing by him.
We follow Jesus because he has the right to rule our lives and is our companion in a world where not all dreams come true or all wishes fulfilled. He is not a means to another end; he himself is the true and good end.