The Cost of Following Jesus Christ!

As I sat in my office at IGo grading papers, I found myself reading the same thoughts over and over from different students.

One student shared, “God showed me that I have not given up my rights and I’m still trying to tell God what to do in my life and when.”

Another student wrote the following, “I have to give back to God the rights that I was holding onto, the dreams and plans I have for my life, and the pride that makes me think that I know better than God!”

One student ended his test by writing the following prayer, “God I trust you will work the right thing, and through your working in my life, though there is still some turmoil and uncertainty, there is also a newfound peace that is filling those gaps as I lay my selfish desires down. Lord, you laid down everything you held dear…for us! So often I think only of your physical sacrifice. But you gave up your home, your family, relationships, the best of the life you had, just to come to this place of suffering and be rejected of all. God, I can’t even comprehend all that! Help me to be a radical for you…not in order to draw attention to myself but to draw attention to you, and to what you can accomplish in a person’s life! I know you aren’t near done working in this area of my life, and I just commit the rest of it to you. Lord, take my will and mix it all up into Yours!”

As I pondered these thoughts, a flood of mixed emotions came over me. I was blessed and encouraged to see and hear that these young people are wanting to lay everything down for Christ. I was reminded that each of these young people represented a family and a church, where they have been taught what it means to follow Christ. What saddened my heart was the fact that the very foundational theme in following Christ is scarcely being taught or caught. What I was hearing from my students is a struggle that is not foreign in our churches – it is very common. We are struggling to lay down our lives for Christ!

Jesus said in Luke 14:26, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Later in the same chapter, Jesus said, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

At the very foundation of following Christ is the command that we must lay down our life. In fact, Jesus said we can’t even be His disciple if we don’t! Somehow, the idea has crept into our churches that this command is only for the missionaries. It is the missionary that has to lay down their life and go where ever God calls them. The Christian has the freedom to stay home and live for the Lord without laying down their life. We have tended to make a distinction between a missionary and a Christian.

However, ALL Christians are commanded to lay down their lives! All Christians are commanded to go and teach. If you are a Christian, you are a missionary – there should be no difference between the two! Some of us will be called to be missionaries in our home towns, telling our neighbors and people we work with about Jesus. Some of us will be called to move to other parts of the world to tell others of Jesus. Both require a laying down of our lives. Both require a giving up of our rights and wills. Both require a total, whole-hearted commitment to follow Christ no matter what the cost. Both require us to give our future to the Lord and allow Him to make the decision concerning the location of our service. And the length of time we are to give? – one whole life, the only one we have!

Is that our commitment to Christ – are we willing to go and do whatever He asks of us? Jesus said, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few.” This is still true today! Let us lay down our lives and labor for our Master in His harvest!

By Rick Rhodes, IGo Instructor (I Witness News/Summer 2007)

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