Kyle Idleman, author of the fantastic books “Not a Fan” and “Gods at War”, recently wrote of his experience with the persecuted church in Southeast Asia. When someone there is contemplating becoming a follower of Christ, they are asked some very difficult questions: “Are you willing to lose your job and home?”; “Are you willing to be beaten and thrown in jail because of your faith?”; “Are you willing to die for Jesus?” This is in stark contrast to how the Western Church leads people into the Kingdom. We ask them to raise their hand, pray a prayer, and maybe come to the front of the group; and we have the audacity to say these actions require great boldness!
We are so concerned with adding someone to the Kingdom that we are most often guilty of not even explaining what that looks like in their everyday lives. Countless sermons hammer the point that accepting Christ is not simply a “get out of Hell free card”, but when decision time comes, that’s exactly what we sell people. Can you imagine being asked questions like those above in an American church? Odds are we’d be too afraid of having someone reject our invitation to Jesus if we told them the truth.
That is why I believe America has seen such moral decline. It’s why with all the money and power the American church has had over the past century that we have accomplished so little. Given all of our resources, there is no excuse that the world has not been exposed many times over to the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no excuse that Christians are not known as people who do nothing but love and serve. Because we don’t ask the hard questions of those coming to the faith, we have swelled the so-called ranks of the Kingdom with counterfeit believers and those who are simply misled.
Why do you think Jesus said that many would come to Him at the judgment crying out that they knew Him, yet He will turn them away (Matthew 7:21-23)? It’s because they never really knew Him at all! They prayed a prayer, got baptized, and thought they were good to go. Look around you; there are far more Christians pursuing the American dream than there are those living in an unabashed pursuit of God. If we’re honest, we have all been guilty of this at least to some degree. I know I have certainly fallen into the same trap.
Jesus demands everything from those who follow Him. He wants you to trust your entire life to His care – your time, your money, your entertainment, your possessions, everything! Ask yourself the hard questions. Are you really willing to give up your lifestyle to follow Jesus? Can you honestly say you are willing to be laughed at, spit on, and beaten because of your unwavering trust in Him? Would you die for your faith? Following Jesus is not a safe place. It’s dangerous and glorious all at once. Don’t be misled; ask yourself the hard questions and test your faith.