Summary: When Paul spoke to Felix about faith in Christ he discussed righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come. It scared Felix, but not enough. What motivates us to live for Christ?
What would you risk your life for?
Acts 15:26 speaks of “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
There are a lot of things people will risk their lives for. In fact, for some people there is a certain thrill that comes with danger. They are hooked on the rush they get from the experience of being in the path of danger and overcoming. Extremes attract and engage the risk takers. I recently saw a picture of a Conquistador standing with his red cape as a bull charges through and the caption underneath says in bold letters: Courage! I thought, “Yeah, right.”
Or, there is a man vertically suspended on the side of a 2000 foot straight up escarpment precipice clinging to the tiny intrusions and extrusions with his fingers as he climbs. The scene around him is beautiful, and the guy taking the picture is probably as impressed as I am looking at it. The caption says: Risk it all! And some inspirational sub-message follows.
Then, there is the TV advertisement for Mellow Yellow where the guy on his stunt bike rides off the edge of the Grand Canyon to catch the can and slurp the drink. Thankfully, they don’t show his landing.
On an honorable scale, think of the soldier in Iraq standing outside a voting area as an unwelcome foreigner protecting the human rights of those who come to vote. This soldier is risking his life for a cause we all appreciate.
Finally, let us remember the missionary who works in harms way to bring the saving message of Jesus Christ into the lives of the lost. What higher cause can a person live for?
There are lots of things people will risk their lives for, but fewer things that people will purposefully give their lives for. What would you, knowingly, give up your life for? Most of the worldly risks that attract us are exciting and attractive because those that experienced them lived to tell about it. Yet, think about it. Isn’t that part of the point of being a Christian? Since the cross of Christ and the empty tomb, we who follow Jesus realize that when we give up our lives for Jesus, we still live to tell about it! Forever!
Jesus words are, “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life!” So where is the risk? Well, brothers and sisters the greatest risk is that of NOT giving our lives for Jesus! It is the danger of having lived this life for ourselves and dying in our sins. There is no heroism in going to hell. No one knows this danger as much as God does and he has performed the ultimate work and sacrifice to see that we have the way home. God offers to us this way. He doesn’t force it upon us. God extends his hand of grace. He is not willing that any should perish but all come to repentance. God’s love is enormously demonstrated by Jesus’ death for us on that cross. Nothing this world offers comes close. But, listen to me now… God’s holy character will not be mocked by our unholy attitudes and actions. The Christian life is not a game or part time pursuit.
Burger King used to advertise, “Have it your way at Burger King,” meaning you can hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us, all we ask is that you let us serve it your way. Some want a Burger King faith. Have it my way. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Did Jesus have it his way? Did any other faithful servant of God have it his way?
A cause worthy of the cost of our redemption demands the highest commitment we can muster, and deserves far more than we can ever repay.
Remember STP oil treatment? Those of us who lived before fuel injection engines might appreciate this illustration. STP oil or gas treatment was an additive that made your car run better. You add the oil treatment to your oil or the gas treatment to your gas and supposedly, you would get better mileage and more power from your engine. Some see Christianity as an additive to life to make things run a little (or a lot) better. We all could use a bit more power to face challenges that come up. But that view of the call of Christ is totally foreign to scripture. Jesus Christ is not an additive to life to make it better or give us more power. Jesus Christ is THE alternative to death. He doesn’t share his glory with another. It is all or none. You are in or out. We are saved or lost. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes unto the Father but by me.” Jesus said, “Whoever would keep his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will keep it to eternal life.” Jesus followers understood. In the face of possible punishment by death they said, “There is no other name given among men by which we must be saved.”