He stands looking right into my eyes with a gun pointed at my head. I am frozen still with fear unable to move. He shouts at me; “If you want to live deny that Jesus is Lord!” I can barely breathe, I am shaking like a leaf but as I open my mouth to speak everything I’ve known of my Lord comes to mind, my heart is filled with peace and I reply; “Jesus Christ is Lord!”
The rest is a blur.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve thought through this scenario. In my mind it’s the ultimate sacrifice I could make for my Lord, my Jesus. The One who gave His all for me. To die for His name’s sake – what a sacrifice!
Now, at the moment in Canada I do not live in fear of that type of persecution for being a Christian. That’s not the type of sacrifice I can make for Jesus and I’m going to hazard a guess at saying that’s not the type of sacrifice you can offer Jesus either.
“Phew!” says us. That would be a pretty big price to pay and if we’re being truly honest we don’t want to give that big a sacrifice.
Over the past year or so I’ve noticed there seems to be a hierarchy in christian circles as to who Jesus calls to sacrifice for His name’s sake. Here’s few:
- Missionaries in far off countries… usually we use Africa as an example – Let’s face it…they’re super Christians. They go into lands where no one has heard about Jesus and risk their lives for the sake of the Gospel. They sacrifice a lot – they move countries, leave their family, learn a new language, give up a decent lifestyle, have little medical care and always have to carry around a little orphan child.
- Pastors – God only calls those who have it all together and are as close to perfect as humanly possible to be Pastors so of course these guys are willing to sacrifice for Jesus’ sake. It’s only right that they sacrifice their family time, rest and sometimes health for the church they serve, they’re getting paid for it.
- Bible College Students – They are the ‘extra-holy’ ones. They went to college to learn how to pray, read their Bibles and serve; not to mention meet and marry a like minded ‘extra-holy’ one. You see they should live their lives different to other pew people because they’ve got extra letters at the end of their name not to mention a fancy degree!
I hope you giggled reading that list. I legitimately have heard each of those excuses used by ‘normal’ Christians in response to being questioned about how they are living their lives for Christ.
The more I look at the lives of every disciple ever called by God (or ‘to those who became Christians’) in the Bible I see one common thing; 100% sacrifice.
Read Luke 5:1-11 when Jesus called the first disciples to follow him; “…they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”
Luke 5:27-31 Jesus calls Levi and “Levi got up, left everything and followed him.”
I love the story of Saul’s conversion in Acts 9:1-19 Jesus calls him, he has to stop what he’s doing and listen to what Jesus asks him to do. Never once after meeting with Jesus does he go back to his old life – he left his power, status and lifestyle behind in pursuit of Jesus.
Recently God’s been speaking to me about sacrifice. Not the idea of being a Martyr for Christ, however if that day comes I pray I’ll stand firm- but more of a daily sacrifice. He began speaking to me about sacrifice during my Christmas vacation. I went home to Northern Ireland for a couple of weeks after being away for nearly 9 months – for those who don’t know me I’m a real people person. I love being with people, sharing in their lives and being there for them as much as I can. As you can imagine living half way across the world from my family and friends kind of makes that a little bit difficult so catching up with everyone was bliss. But then came the dreaded goodbyes. I hate being ‘that’ girl in the security line but you can’t hold tears in… (funny story: my gate was closing and I was told to use the fast track lane but I hasn’t paid for that privilege so I chanced it and I’m pretty certain the tears stopped the guy asking questions and I got right through! lol)… in that moment when I’d said goodbye to those I love I was convinced that was the greatest sacrifice God had called me to make. How wrong was I.
You see the life of a believer is to be one of constant sacrifice. The art of saying no to self and yes to Jesus.
What did Jesus have to say about this? “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 lost it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24
What does that look like us for today in 2015?
- Are we willing to sacrifice those extra minutes in bed in order to spend time seeking God at the start of the day?
- Are we willing to sacrifice our popularity (even among Christian friends) by taking a stand against something that goes against God’s word?
- Are we willing to sacrifice that job, relationship or circumstance in order to go where God has called us to or to serve in a ministry he’s called us to?
- Are we willing to sacrifice that TV show, social media or activity that eats our time away so that we can spend time reading our bibles and praying ?
- Are we willing to sacrifice that money we would spend of coffee or clothes to give to something God wants us to give to?
- Are we willing to sacrifice anything hinders our walk with Jesus no matter what the cost?
At the end of our lives we’re going to have to stand before Jesus, the one who died so that we might live – we will have to give an account for our lives; the places we went, words we said or didn’t say, time we wasted, things we watched, listened to or were involved in. I don’t say this to scare you – I say it to encourage you (and me) that we have one life to live for the sake of Jesus.
We are given one life to make a difference for the Kingdom of God – Jesus gave His whole life for us… what are we willing to give Him?!