Then he said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?'
I have been challenged lately by what it means to love Christ. To really love Him. Not just to say "Hey, God I love ya. Could you help me out with my patience?". But to really lay down all of my desires for His sake.
For His Kingdom.
For His purpose.
It seems I have just gone through life as a fan of Christ. Thankful for all He can do for me...his forgiveness, grace, love. But I haven't really stepped over the threshold into a follower. I've been sitting on the sidelines cheering Him on. A spectator. But I desire so much more. I want to be found in Him. I want people, when they look at me, to see Him...not me. I want His glory, His light, and His love to radiate from within me. I want to lose my life for Him.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Did you notice those words? At once. Immediately. There wasn't any hesitation. They desired what Jesus was offering so much that they left all they had, immediately, and followed Him. They were not fans. They were followers. They laid down their lives to follow Him.
I keep looking back at James and John and the fact that they were IN the boat with their father and that they immediately left their boat. Now in my mind, I don't see them gently walking out of the boat onto a dock, because really...did they even have docks? No. I see them out a ways, getting ready to cast their nets into the water...and here's Jesus on the shore, shouting to them to follow Him. And what do James and John do? They immediately drop their net, leave their father without so much as a goodbye, leap out of the boat and into the water head first and swim to shore as fast as they can. They were devoted. Their enthusiasm could not be contained.
I want to be like that. When God says move, I want to move. No questions asked. Just move. Jump. Leap. Do whatever it takes to follow after Him with all that I am.
Another example is Elisabeth Elliot. Her husband and four other missionaries were killed by the Auca Indians. And what does she do? What God tells her...which is contrary to what the world says. She moves into the same village, with the same people who killed her husband. And it's not just her, she brought along their 3 year-old daughter. That takes faith. And trust. But she laid down her life for the sake of God, and God moved in the hearts of the Auca people. Read her story in "The Savage My Kinsman". Allow it to change you as it did me.
When God calls you. Be ready. Don't just be a fan. Be a follower. Be willing to lay down your life for Him. It may go against what the world says is "normal", but if it didn't then God couldn't shine through it. God doesn't want us to just blend in...He wants us to shine. It's hard to be a light when we look like everyone else.
I know that I am choosing Him. No matter the cost. No matter the call. I am not a fan. I am a follower. Are you?