How far would you go to follow Jesus? It’s easy to say you love Him; most of us would even say we’d die for Him. In Matthew 10, Jesus tells His us that if we follow Him, the world at large will hate us. Are we willing to be hated by the world? The leaders of Israel were constantly conspiring to kill Jesus, or to trap Him in His own words. They were determined to take Him down, one way or the other. Are you prepared to live that way, under that kind of scrutiny? Again in Matthew 10, Jesus issues another warning, telling us that our own family members will betray, disown and kill us. They will do this simply because we choose to follow Jesus. Are you prepared to cause division and strife in your family? Are you willing to love God more than you love them? Obedience to the call of Jesus is not an easy road.
It doesn’t end here. Still in Matthew 10, Jesus tells his followers that they will be persecuted and tortured because of His name. This is not a calling for the marginally curious. Following Jesus is extremely serious, and you must be willing to pay the price before you endeavor to do so. We are not promised an easy, secure life; rather we are told by Jesus that we’ll be like a lone sheep surrounded by many hungry wolves (Matthew 10:16). We will suffer. We may die. We will alienate many around us, and we may lose our friends and family. These are the facts given by Jesus Himself; this is not a game. Following Jesus calls for a radical commitment devoid of any self-interest. Is the cost worth it to you? Are you still willing to come along?
In another passage in Matthew (chapter 8, verses 20-22), Jesus tells us we should expect to be homeless if we follow Him. This is almost unfathomable to Christians in the West who have intertwined their faith with the American dream. If we are traveling into all nations telling others about Jesus, just as He commanded us to do, then what need of a home would we have anyway? Jesus goes on to say that we should not even take the time to bury our family members. This is urgent, and there is no time to lose. The days are evil and counting furiously down. Time is against us, so we cannot deviate from our mission for even an hour. We have to reject all that the world offers us and instead, accept all that Christ will freely give. Though others may curse us and spit on us, we must respond by loving them, understanding that they are simply in need of a Savior and that God considers them to be of infinite worth. Though others may jeer and even torture us, we must remain steadfastly committed to praying for them, and loving them. This is what Jesus did. If we would follow Him, we must not waver.
Are you in? Are you still able to say that you truly love Jesus? Do you love Him to the extent that you would die for Him? Christ took the time to warn us of exactly what we should expect. There should be no surprises when it comes our time to face and endure trials and persecutions. Rather, we should seriously consider our walk with Him if we are not already facing these trials. Perhaps we’ve given in to the Westernized view of Christianity, the one that is replete with multi-million dollar buildings and with sermons proclaiming a safe, successful version of Christianity. This isn’t about being comfortable or feeling secure. This is about following hard after Jesus Christ with an unbridled and unrestrained passion. The road is narrow and difficult, and only a few will persist.
Let me ask once more, “Are you in?” Are you ready to literally lose everything for the sake of Jesus Christ? Are you ready to travel all over the world to proclaim His message? Will you endure being mocked, spit upon, and tortured? Will you concede all of your friends and family in order to follow Him? Are you willing to die for the sake of Jesus? How far would you go?