At a time of year when most people make fresh resolutions and commitments, the question is often asked – have we really weighed this up or how long will this last? You often hear of great plans for weight loss, commitments to start the gym or stop something. They say the greatest increase in gym membership is January, but by February almost 60% of new members have already opted out. Have we really weighed up the struggle and sacrifice?
I guess the challenge is true for many of us in terms of our commitment to Jesus. Have we really counted the cost and weighed up what it means to follow Jesus? In our ‘evangelical mindset’ we usually direct this question towards those who haven’t yet chosen to follow Jesus. However, a lot of the time when Jesus was asking this question he directed it to people who were already His followers or ‘Christians’.
Let’s look at some of the things Jesus asked of those who would accept the challenge of following Him: - Luke 9:23-25 “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
- Matthew 6:19-21,33;
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness
- Matthew 3:2;
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- John 18:36;
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
- Mark 10:42-45; “And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- John 15:19-20; “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”
- Matthew 10:16-19; “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.
- Matthew 6:9-10;
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
The challenge is not that we say we are Christians, but that we truly walk in His footsteps of selflessness for the Kingdom’s sake. That may mean laying down prejudice, opinions, preconceived ideas, rights, ambitions and more.
Some recent statistics really hit home as to how seriously we take this idea of following Jesus. Based on a survey in the UK & Ireland in 2014;
- 5% of professing Christians read their Bible at least once a week. - Professing Christians pray on average of 4 minutes a day.
We only have to look at opinions on major issues to see how this affects Christians who stand (or don’t) for Biblical truths in our society.
I don’t say this in condemnation because I think the challenge sits right at my feet first, and to each of us who truly claim to follow Jesus. The challenge is not in our words, but in our actions – reading the Bible, praying, commitment to the Body of Christ/local church, serving, witness and in many other ways.
So at a time when many people are making fresh commitments and evaluating their lifestyle maybe it’s a good time for us to once again count the cost and weigh up what it really means for us to follow Jesus.