God loves seventh grade boys… and He respects their questions. He wants to reveal to them (and everyone) His truth and bring all into a relationship with Himself through His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit, our Helper.
If one believes and obeys the truth of the Gospel and understands he is chosen and blessed with everything he needs for ‘life and godliness,’ what next? I think this third question is about commitment. Seventh grade boys are very observant and notice huge differences in the lives of those who say they follow Jesus. Not every Christian seems to be truly seeking first the kingdom of heaven. So… “If I do follow Jesus with all of my heart, will it be worth it?”
The mature might say such a question reflects self-centeredness rather than Christ-centeredness. Jesus has created us, purchased us with His blood, and made the way for us to live with Him forever… who are we to ask: “Lord, do I really need to be totally devoted to You in order to be Your disciple? And if I give my all… will it be worth it?”
As independent-minded Americans, Jesus’ rhetorical questions may not register: “Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So, you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17:7-10)
All of us should say: “I owe everything to You so I will surrender all to You. My life is for Your glory… not my own. You loved me first and gave Your life to take away my sins. I am Yours!” But even the apostles asked questions. As Jesus explained the difficulty the rich would have following Him, one spoke up:
“Peter answered Him, ‘We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or children or fields for Me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in the present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.’” (see Mark 10:28-31 and Matthew 19:27-30)
As usual, looking to Christ helps answer our questions. He is the only begotten Son, blessed by His Father in heaven. Knowing who He was, Jesus chose to surrender His own will and yield completely to His Father. “He learned obedience from what He suffered,” (Hebrews 5:8) which must mean even the Son of God grew and progressed on this earth. His life was not taken from Him; He laid it down. ( John 10:18) I think Jesus would tell seventh grade boys (and each of us): “It was worth it to follow My Father’s plan.”
Now He invites us to follow in His steps. And as we make mistakes and struggle with understanding, He patiently teaches us and gives us: infinite love, purpose for living, peace that passes all understanding, joy unspeakable, undeserved mercy, Living Water (which is the Holy Spirit), Bread of Life (which is Himself), fellowship with His Body (which is the Church), forgiveness of sins, abundant grace, the promise of an inheritance from the Father, and eternal life. Following Jesus is more than worth it.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: ‘Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature a of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’” Philippians 2:5-11