I am in a Precepts study in the second part of the book of Matthew this Spring. There are no more haunting words in the Bible to me than the words of Jesus that talk about us denying Him before men. We live in such a lazily safe culture for meager faith. It costs us basically nothing (save for snickers or arguments) and produces such an anemic faith that cannot even crawl.
Fear captivates our hearts here while in countries where the cost is so great for faith, Followers of Christ move and act in boldness and joy in the midst of harsh suffering. What most of us call a Christian life is not. It is a label of tradition that makes us feel safe and righteous.
What does Jesus say is the mark of one with faith? Matthew lays out to a Jewish audience several things Jesus conveyed. Repentance from sin, humility knowing that we have no resource to bring to God, following after Him and His ways (which include submission, suffering, death), lack of fear, hungering and thirsting for His righteousness, lack of popularity, service, faith, being abandoned by one’s family.
“you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”M10:22
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” M 10:39
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” M 16:24-26
“Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” M 11:6
I do not know about you, but those words are chilling to my bones. This is serious. This is not a half-hearted life Jesus is calling people to. His words leave no room for doubt. Either you follow totally or you don’t. There is no cultural following, no day to day flip-flop, no convenient gospel. It is by His redemption and righteousness that we live in the hope He gives us. We bring nothing to the table (Romans 3), with repentance and faith, he gives us life to live FULLY in Him. We are constantly seeking Him to show us ways in which we need to die to ourselves and live to Him. That is where true life is found.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive article on following Him. My question today is where do you see yourself in the light of these truths? Offended by Him? Self-protective of your rights and what is not fair in your life? Seeking to be admired and praised by men? My prayer is that we examine ourselves in the light of these truths–of what He puts forth, repent of our self-protecting, self-promoting hearts and cling and lean into the righteousness of Christ.