Not long ago, someone handed me a card with this “clever” saying printed on it: TRY JESUS. IF IT DOESN’T WORK OUT, THE DEVIL WILL ALWAYS TAKE YOU BACK. Well, the devil will certainly “take us back” if we return to him, but there is a dangerous misconception embedded in this quotation, one that many Christians seem to be hindered by.
In our consumer-oriented culture many of us think of Jesus as no more than a product that can be “tried,” after which we can decide to keep it or, if it doesn’t enhance our lifestyle, to return it.
To change the metaphor slightly, we think of Jesus as an “option” — one that we might explore, but we certainly don’t want to close off any of our other options. In our commitment-averse society, the dumbest mistake a person can make is binding himself to a obligation that he can’t get out of if it becomes inconvenient.
The problem here is that merely “trying” Jesus — or exploring discipleship to Him as a possible “option” — is the surest way to doom the experiment. This happens to be an experiment that, to have any chance of success, requires an ABSOLUTE, NO-TURNING-BACK COMMITMENT.
A radical choice has to be made. Other options have to be given up. Jesus said it this way: “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
Peter wrote, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire’ ” (2 Peter 2:20–22).
So Jesus can’t merely be “tried.” A tentative testing of the waters of “religion” will not get the job done. He requires us to “count the cost” (Luke 14:28) of discipleship, and then either commit ourselves to Him . . . or not. There is no safe middle course.