I just got back from a short visit with our Every Nation churches and campus ministries in China. Every time I visit the Christians there I’m blown away by their sincere faith and sense of sacrifice.
If you want to get rid of any sense of entitlement, any tendency to complain quickly about small issues, any sense of pride in your own progress as a Christian, then visit Christians in China. The threat of arrest is a regular part of their life. Professional success, family approval, and personal freedom are all on the line when they choose to follow Jesus.
This trip was no different. During the conference, there was an opportunity given for people who wanted to enter full-time campus ministry. The pastor asked the people if they were willing to answer this call. This is the way he framed it,
“The call of God is to share in the sufferings of Christ. The call of God is a life full of challenges. I do not look to enrich myself. I do not join to find comfort.
Are you ready to answer the call to share in the sufferings of Christ as a good soldier?
Are you ready to let go of everything?
Are you ready to lay your life on the line.
When you remember China, when you remember thousands and thousands of students, do you want to reach them with us?
I don’t know if we’ll have the money to support you. But are you saying ‘I want to go! I want to be trained! It doesn’t matter if I’ll eat a full meal. Send me!’ If that’s you, come forward now.”
The Filipinos watched stunned as a thirty young men and women solemnly went up onstage. For each of them, this decision meant saying goodbye to careers they worked hard to build. It meant letting down family expectations. There were also a number of older men and women in tears. I’m sure they remembered how it felt for them to answer that call many years ago.
I appreciated the pastor for being clear and honest about what following Jesus means. He didn’t sugarcoat it. This wasn’t false advertising. He said exactly what to expect and he let the Holy Spirit convince them.
Jesus and the early church leaders were the same way. They didn’t lie to people. They were very clear. Yes, following Jesus is free and following Jesus is open to all. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost anything. Jesus was very clear about what it meant. (Emphases mine)
- John 15:18-20 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
- John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
- 1 Peter 4:12-14 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
The Bible is clear that following Jesus brings opposition, persecution, ridicule, and much more. While most of us aren’t under any threat of improvement or harm, we will encounter other kinds of persecution. The only question is, “Is knowing Jesus worth it?” This is decision we all must make for ourselves.
- Am I experiencing opposition for my faith? If there’s no opposition, could it be because I’ve compromised and there’s no difference in my life?
- Have I counted the cost of following Jesus? Are there still things that I treasure more than Him?
- Do I know Jesus and am I thankful for how much He loves me? Does knowing Him make all these hardships worth it?
Jesus, thanks for suffering for me. Help me see that it is a privilege to suffer for you. Please give me strength to obey you especially when it’s difficult. Amen