Summary: Before the world is ever going to take Jesus seriously, the church has to take Jesus seriously. Before the world is converted to a lifestyle devoted to Jesus Christ, the church must be converted to a lifestyle devoted to Jesus Christ. We are called to put
Before the world is ever going to take Jesus seriously, the church has to take Jesus seriously. Before the world is converted to a lifestyle devoted to Jesus Christ, the church must be converted to a lifestyle devoted to Jesus Christ. Mother Theresa was once asked, “What advice do you have for a young Christian?” And she said, “Follow Jesus and not the Jesus of people’s imaginations.” We have to re-discover the real Jesus who calls us to follow him in servanthood, and sacrifice and maybe just maybe persecution. Jesus calls us to be like him and join him in God’s sacrificial redemptive mission for the world. We are called to put everything we have on the line for God’s mission. At the age of 58, Tom and Elaine Samply cashed out their retirements and moved to the Czech Republic and opened a coffee shop called Common Grounds where he taught business principles to atheists. After they were there for six years, they had enough business that they planted the first church and today they have planted seven churches in the Czech Republic. At age 67 today they are still working for Jesus. How many 50 somethings are thinking about putting everything they have on the line for Jesus? I think of Sam Dixon who was the head of UMCOR and who died at age 60, doing what he loved to do: working for the welfare of the poor and rejected of the world in the name of Jesus Christ. His life ended before he could be rescued from the ruins of a hotel toppled by the powerful earthquake that struck Haiti.
Disciples give everything for the sake of Jesus’ mission. Jesus is not calling us to sit in the pews and soak in things for our own benefit. He is calling us to give everything in following him. The Gospel is a dangerous message and this is a dangerous call to follow Him. What we need to be careful and ever vigilant in is to make sure we’re not compromising the message of Jesus and reducing it to a comfortable Christianity that is all about me and my needs. Jesus calls us to follow him in God’s sacrificial redemptive mission to change the world. Listen to what Jesus says to us, “Do not be afraid of what I am calling you to do.”
What do we fear when it comes to following Jesus and living a life of sacrificial faith? Ask the congregation. Rejection. Ridicule. Lack of control in our life. Conflict. We fear what we have to give up. What is so amazing is that when Jesus was recruiting for a new movement of God, you’d think that he’d lay out the benefits. Instead, he tells us what the cost will be if we accept this mission. We will have ridicule, personal attacks, persecution, rejection by family and in verse 24 he says, he has come into enemy territory and because I am fighting to save the world. Guess what? Jesus says, what they do to me and they will do to you.
The danger is that we use God for our own purposes. God help me to get that job promotion. God, keep me healthy. Too often we try to use God for our ends rather than offering ourselves sacrificially for his purpose. That’s what worship is all about: we come here to offer all that we are and all that we have to God to do as he sees fit for his purpose. Go to Matthew 20, “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” This mother is asking iJesus to bless her sons with the highest positions of influence in the kingdom of God. Now Jesus said, “You don’t know what you’re asking for?” We have so subverted the Gospel in making it about us. It’s not just what Jesus did for us on the cross it’s about what Jesus is calling us to do which is to join him in a mission which leads to the cross. We’ve so sanitized the faith and even the cross because we took the most horrific death in Jesus’ time and made it into pretty jewelry. Preachers are just as guilty of this when they promise that God will bless you financially if you just give or if you believe. We are called to the cross, a call to sacrifice everything you are and everything you have, even to the point of death. This is the cost of following Jesus.