What does it mean to follow Jesus? When we are honest, I think sometimes we’ll find that our response to the Gospel is so much more about our desire for a better life than a commitment to give our lives in service to God for the sake of others. Don’t get me wrong, I think our lives do and should benefit from following Jesus; but is that really the heart of what it means to be his disciple?
I once heard Craig Groeschel, Pastor of Lifechurch.tv, describe 3 lines of commitment.
- Line 1: I believe in the Gospel enough to benefit from it.
- Line 2: I believe in the Gospel enough to contribute comfortably to it.
- Line 3: I believe in the Gospel enough to give my life to it.
I wonder, which line have you crossed? Which have I? And is anything less than the 3rd line really following Jesus?
Jesus called the crowds to him and said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)
In his bestselling book Crazy Love, Francis Chan writes: “When I was in high school, I seriously considered joining the Marines; this was when they first came out with commercials for “the few, the proud, the Marines.” What turned me off was that in those advertisements, everyone was always running. Always. And I hate running. But you know what? I didn’t bother to ask if they would modify the rules for me so I could run less, and maybe also do fewer push-ups. That would’ve been pointless and stupid, and I knew it. Everyone knows that if you sign up for the Marines, you have to do whatever they tell you. They own you. Somehow this realization does not cross over to our thinking about the Christian life. Jesus didn’t say that if you wanted to follow Him you could do it in a lukewarm manner. He said, ‘Take up your cross and follow me.'”Jesus comes to us and offers us 'a chance to die.' -Amy Carmichael Click To Tweet
In the words of one of my heroes of the faith, Amy Carmichael, Jesus comes to us and offers us “a chance to die.” A chance to die to our selfishness and limited perspective. A chance to walk away from pursuing lesser things and a life of worrying about the unimportant. A chance to no longer be dominated by our insecurities and hesitations. A chance to take our eyes off ourselves and turn our attention to people and a world that needs our contribution. A chance to carry crosses, cry tears, and sometimes work to the point of exhaustion. A chance to let go of our life…and in the process find it.
And my guess is when we do find it, we will discover it is the life we have always wanted.