Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Is He worth it?

    I try to be honest and open on this blog about who I am. I'm not a perfect human being (just ask friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, teachers, students, pretty much anyone will tell you the same thing). There are days it takes effort just to keep going. Just to get anything done. Days when you fall to the same temptation, again. And again. And again.

    You know when the doubt starts to come? I've done it before. I did it today in fact. Is following Jesus really worth it? Yeah, I know, the good Christians never ask that. The mature ones, the spiritual ones, it's not even a question. But I feel it sometimes, that raw feeling in you somewhere that tempts you, that coaxes you that maybe, just maybe, it's not worth it. "C'mon, others follow Jesus comfortably! Others follow Him from afar!"

    It was a lot easier to flee from Jesus when He was in Gethsemane. In fact, logically, it made a lot more sense on a lot of levels. Flee, save your own lives. Maybe you can rescue Him later. Maybe you can write down what He said and write a book about Him for posterity. Oh, it made a lot more sense to run. It made a lot more sense to have nothing to do with this man who the crowds yelled to crucify.

    It was easier to follow from afar like John. It's a lot easier to shadow Jesus, to follow Him, but not identify with Him. It's a lot easier to claim love for Jesus from afar, when the danger isn't there, when you're safe and comfortable. It's more logical to not put yourself in the position of danger with Jesus. It makes human sense again.

    It was easier to turn on Jesus like Judas. It's a lot easier to join the crowd, the popular ones, the majority, and just blend in. It's safe. It's logical. Just join the popular movement, the safe movement. The movement convenient at the time, the one that will guarantee you happiness now.

    It was easier to sit by the fire and deny Jesus. It was easier to claim ignorance, to hide behind our cowardice to stay off the battlefield, to save our own lives. It was easier to avoid the punishment, to avoid the shame and humiliation that went along with identity with the accused Messiah. It was more convenient. It was more comfortable. It was safer.

    It was comfortable, that is, until Peter looked into the eyes of Jesus and He remembered His words. Peter was content with His personal safety and happiness, until He saw Jesus and remember what He said.

    I wonder if we sometimes don't really believe that we will see Jesus one day. Every one of us. Yes, us Christians who walk through life comfortably and safely. Yes, us the convenient Christians who follow Jesus when it's easy. The Christians who follow Jesus when there's no cost, no shame, no humiliation.

    We see the disciples flee when the Jesus' accusers come. They fled. They did the safe thing. They did the smart thing. They ran. They fled the battle. Yet how often I do the same! How often do I run from the very things I profess to stand for. How often do I fall for temptation, expecting pleasure from sin I know can't satisfy! How often do I run from Jesus straight into the arms of my flesh, that I know will not give me joy!

    How often I follow Jesus from afar, close enough to call myself a Christian, but far enough away I don't have to sacrifice, I don't have to endure any shame or name-calling. Far enough away I don't have to do the uncomfortable thing. Far enough away that I'm not seen as weird or radical, yet close enough to appear righteous.

    How often do I deny Jesus with my lifestyle? How often do I sit so near His presence, nearer on the outside than anyone else, yet inwardly denying Him by my actions! Like Peter, who by all external appearances took the most risks to be nearest to Jesus in His darkest hour, yet fell so much further than the others.

    Yes, I am those fleeing disciples. Yes, I am John who watched Jesus from afar. Yes, I am Peter who denied Jesus. Yes, I am the one, Judas, who betrayed Jesus, who helped to nail Him to the cross. Yes, I am they. I am a sinner, I am one who chose the safe road, the smart road, the human road. Deny Jesus, and live! Stand with Him, and die.

    I am unworthy. It's easy to look back at our past before salvation and say we were unworthy. Yeah, sure, we were sinners back then. But when I look at my life today, my thought life, my actions, the stands I've taken, my unworthiness is just as clear. I am not deserving of life. I am not deserving of salvation.

    But with that unworthiness, with that questioning of whether it is worth it to follow Jesus, comes the beauty that comes in Rev. 7. When the multitude gathers around the throne of the Lamb, this huge congregation without number from every people, tribe, tongue,  and nation, we see a conversation occur from the past between John and one of the elders around the throne.

    "And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, 'What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they?' And I said unto him, 'Sir, thou knowest.' And he said to me, 'These are they which came out of a great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

     Where did their status come from? From their courage? From their brave stand with Jesus? For their amazing zeal in Christ's cause? "...have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

     We stand justified, redeemed, loved, adopted, because of the blood of the Lamb. Not because of me, not my awesomeness, or my courage, or my works, or my righteousness, or my zeal, or my intellect, but because of the blood of the Lamb.

    And when the disciples see this, what is their reaction? That every thing, every fiber of their being, is worth it. No sacrifice is too great, no death too painful, no distance too far, no person too lowly, no authority too daunting, no punishment too intimidating to keep them from spreading Jesus Christ across the world. This is what happens when Jesus comes alive to us, when the blood of the Lamb is in our lives. We turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6).

    Is it worth it? I asked myself that today. Is it worth it to try to be a radical? Why not live the normal, comfortable American life? Why not just attend church on Sunday, hold up my end of a "spiritual" conversation, and pray before my meals? Why not stop before the risk, the danger, the discomfort? Is it really worth it?

    Let's ask Peter, who asked to be crucified upside down in order to show His unworthiness to even die like Jesus. Let's ask John, who sat in exile on Patmos before he penned those words, "Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus." Let's ask Paul, who, with scars on his back from the whip and the rods and the scars on his feet from the stocks, says, "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him."

    Did they find it worth it? They seemed to think so, even after the pain, after the discomfort, after the sorrow, after the humiliation, after the torture, because of the Lamb. What if we realized that the Lamb is real? What if we realized that the Lamb is worth it, worth dying for, worth living for? What if we realized that the Lamb is worthy of our undying, eternal worship and endless awe and service?

    Let's ask the martyrs, the Polycarps, the Felicia's, the John and Betty Stams, the Jim Eliot's if it was worth it? Let's ask them, as they stand before the Lamb praising Him for all eternity? Was it worth it? Let's ask those who gave their lives in service, the Mary Slessor's, the David Livingstone's, C.T. Studd's. Let's ask them. Was it worth it? You wanna take a guess what they'll say?

    I think they'd probably say something like this: "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him."

    Is it worth it? When we look at the cost to the unsaved and the world if we don't, what do you think we should say? What should our answer be? Is it worth it? Is He worth it? Jesus Himself commands that we count the cost before we commit to follow Him. Count the cost. Is He worth it?


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  2. I read this before, but just now it hit me where I'm at. No sacrifice is too great, not comfort, family, or even life. It will be worth it. It *is* worth it.