Summary: Jesus does not call us to be saved, but he calls us to follow him as Lord.
This news story appeared locally on July 25th.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A mountain climber who had to cut his arm off to save his life visited Kansas City Friday.
Aron Ralston was hiking alone in a Utah canyon in April when his right arm became pinned beneath an 800-pound boulder.
He was named the first annual Shining Star of Perseverance by the Fortis Benefits Insurance Company, KCTV5’s Robb Yagmin reported.
After being trapped for five and a half days, he used a dull pocket knife to cut off his arm. He then repelled nearly 70 feet and hiked three hours before he was rescued by a helicopter.
Incredible isn’t it? If you were in the same predicament with the same set of circumstances, would you be able to do what Mr. Ralston did? It would be a very difficult thing to lose a limb. But consider the alternative. Either lose a limb, or keep it and die. Which choice would you make? Have you ever considered what you would do if you were called to make the same sort of decision?
If you are a Christian, then you already have been called to make that sort of decision. There are things that Jesus calls us to give up when we become a follower of his. Consider Jesus’ words when he teaches about the cost of discipleship:
"If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire … If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell … If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:43-48)."
In an extreme hyperbole, Jesus illustrates that there are things that we may need to give up that we used to prize and treasure. They are things which we used to rely on. They are things that we think are necessary in order to lead a normal life. These are also things that will cause you to stumble in your walk with Christ. These can amount to more than stumbling blocks. They could be giant boulders that trap you in such a way that you can no longer effectively walk with God.
So, if there is something that pins you down, it may be time to do an amputation. You may think you can’t live it without it, but the other option is to be pinned down and die. Since we are talking about spiritual death, you may not even be able to detect the boulder unless you slow down and take a good look at your spiritual condition. You can see an example of this in the letter to the angel of the church at Sardis in the book of Revelation.
"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ’I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead ‘ (Rev 3:1)."
Here was a church that had a reputation for being a lively, robust church. They probably had all kinds of activity going on. However, the passage later indicates that they had "soiled their garments (Rev 3:4)." They did not give up what they should have given up. They were still trying to be of the world and in the kingdom of God at the same time. They were pinned down under a boulder and did not perform an amputation. The result? A dead church that looked lively.
Is there anything holding you down? Is there anything that prevents you from continuing on your Christian journey?
The Boulder of Friendship
Merely "hanging out" with those who do not call on Jesus as Lord can be an excellent opportunity to bring them to give up their life to him and become his servant for life. However, it can also be a danger if they influence you instead of you influencing them. Concerning partnerships with unbelievers, Paul writes,
"Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. ‘Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ Says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor 6:14-7:1)."