“I’m sorry, I can’t fulfill that, I’m already committed” will be spoken to the other commitment from the heart of the true disciple.
Luke 14:31-33 (NIV)
31 "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won't he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.
33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
Every time a commitment is made, it requires giving up some other time, resource, or energy that might already be given or available elsewhere. Oftentimes this displacement is not fully considered, as allure of the commitment rises above what might be lost as a result. Not fully understood is the judgment of value and priority that is taking place in a simple commitment made.
In verses prior to these in Luke, Jesus tells a parable of a feast to which many guests had been invited. Rather than responses of commitments to attend and honor the invitation, there were only declarations of other commitments - “bought a field”,“bought a yoke of oxen”, “just got married” - all worthy and commendable excuses. But, also declarations of value and priority judgments.
It’s possible to bear a label and fill out a member card, but to really make the commitment to be a disciple in the kingdom comes only after careful consideration of how this will impact every other commitment in life. Because, to remain as a disciple will mean saying, “I just bought a field, but I will be there”, “I will have someone take care of my new oxen so I can be there”, “I have chosen a spouse who is also committed to be there”.
Jesus, at a young age knew the necessity of placing the Father’s commitments above even His family. Although He had to learn that there is responsibility in adequately communicating this priority, His declaration was that He must be about His Father’s business. He would grow in stature and favor with God and man, which would require faithfulness to other commitments. When it came down to choosing between commitment to His Father and any other, however, there was no wondering where His priorities were. This careful placement of value and priority would make it possible for Him to fulfill His purpose on the cross, never letting another considered responsibility take priority over the One He really came here for.
There is significant purpose for each of us in the kingdom of God. Just as Jesus came for the kingdom, to redeem, restore and raise, so there is an important role for each of us as a part of His body. We’ve been given a special invitation to join the Father in an encounter of fellowship and unity of purpose. The response to this invitation will have everything to do with discipleship. For those who will be a part of what God’s doing, nets and boats are left, posts abandoned, and clients reassigned. This is what the 12 did and they did so immediately. Their excuses were reversed. Instead of “I’ve got to fish, I can’t come”, theirs was “I can’t fish today, I’m serving/following Jesus”.
To be more than a CINO (Christian in name only) requires this same reversal of excuses. What is willfully given up, dropped, abandoned to respond to the Master’s invitation is what determines the authenticity of the claim of Him as Lord. Our time of fasting and prayer can be so effective in purposefully setting and practicing this priority with regard to food and other areas of faithful commitment. Dropping them completely to respond to the invitation to pray can be powerful in preparing for that moment when it may require leaving the nets, job, home, fam, game, etc. “I’m sorry, I can’t fulfill that, I’m already committed” will be spoken to the other commitment from the heart of the true disciple.