If you’re like me, you’ve seen the news about the Christians who were beheaded in Africa. I saw this video today and I was moved. I can’t tell you how I’ve struggled with loving these people. God instructs us to love everyone and he means EVERYONE. Not just the ones we choose to love. Not just the ones who do good to us. He said to love our enemies and to even do good to those who despitefully use us.
Videos like ISIS puts out are meant to have a shock factor for us Christians in the west. It does. We’ve not faced this level of persecution so it’s hard for us to wrap our minds around this kind of thing. However, Jesus said in Luke chapter 14 verses 26, 27 and 33:
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
What does this tell us? First of all, it tells us if we follow him, NOTHING can be more important that him. Look at the end of verse 26. He says if we do not hate our own life we cannot be his disciple. That means if we are faced with the choice to deny him and live, and we take the the choice to live, we are not worthy to be called his disciples. He continues in verse 27, if we do not bear our cross and come after him we cannot be his disciple.
The cross was an instrument of torture. It was mean to instill fear and control people. To keep them in order. So when Jesus says we must take up our own cross he’s saying, you may have to give up your life, and if you’re not willing, then you’re not worthy.
Verse 33 says if we do not forsake all we have, we cannot be his disciple. These are strong words folks. Following Jesus isn’t for the faint of heart. We hear so much preaching about prosperity but we never hear how Jesus says, we may have to give it all up. Our brothers and sisters around the world are giving up their lives. It’s time we take following Jesus seriously. It’s not just a Sunday thing. It’s a lifestyle. Either we’re sold out or we’re not. There is no in between. In between won’t stand when the fire gets hot. In between will sell Jesus out to the highest bidder. You have to make up your mind that no matter what comes you will serve him. If it costs you your family or your life, you have to be okay with that.
That brings me back to the video. The same way we’ve been forgiven, we have to forgive others. That even means the unthinkable. We have to LOVE in the midst of hate. Pray for the persecuted church and pray for those doing the persecuting. If God can take Saul and change him into Paul, he can do anything. Stay close to Jesus. Sell out to him.