Life is hard for Christians everywhere. This should come as no surprise, as Jesus told us we would have trouble in this world (John 16:33). In many countries, following Jesus will lead to imprisonment, torture, and death. In other countries, Christians are denied jobs, housing, and access to village resources like water. The physical and emotional consequences of professing faith in Christ are extreme. Yet, believers in these countries hold fast to Jesus.
They disregard the risks for the sake of the prize. Knowing and serving Jesus is worth more than anything to them. In America, our faith rarely causes us any threat to our physical well-being. The emotional consequences of professing your faith are minimal and even laughable compared to what so many are facing. And yet most Christians in America lack the devotion and fervor in their faith of those who suffer so much. Why is that?
Is it perhaps we’re allowing our lives to be centered on our careers, our kids’ extracurricular activities, or our social and entertainment choices? I’m willing to bet at some point in your life, maybe many points, you have run out of time in the day to study your Bible. I’m also willing to bet you’ve never run out of time to take your child to soccer practice because you were too busy studying God’s Word. If you don’t have children, insert one of your own distractions.
Jesus is not an add-on for our over-busy life. He’s not one more thing on our to-do list. Jesus is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. He’s the Creator of all the majestic beauty you see in the world. And yet we treat Him as if He is convenient when times are tough but expendable when life is going well.
We take God too lightly. We use His promise to never leave or forsake us as an excuse to forget He is there. I’m struck by the fact Western Christians spend billions of dollars each year on books, programs, and seminars to learn to live for Christ while our brothers and sisters around the world are spending their time preparing to die for Christ. We’re toying with surrender while they are winning the war.
If we believe Jesus is who He says He is, then we have no excuse to not live for Christ and Christ alone. You can reject Him, sure, that’s your prerogative as someone who has free will. But if you accept Him, you are no longer free to live however you want. You are free to serve God and experience His life in you, but you belong to Him now. You are no longer your own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
We’ve all built up habits and rhythms in our lives that don’t put God in the center. This isn’t the call of Christ, and it is not the way a disciple of Jesus should or can live. We’ve taken our eye off the prize for too long. Distractions and the cares of this world have crept in and now blind us to the reality of how we are choosing to order our lives. None of us are immune and none are beyond hope. It’s our choice though. We can try to figure out how to better live for Christ, or we can spend the rest of our lives getting ready to die for Him. Which will it be?