Worth the Suffering?

Worth the Suffering?

It can get exhausting at times. Urging friends to pursue Jesus can grow discouraging. Presenting the eternal hope of Jesus to those dying at the hands of their self-inflicted pain has its challenges. As I consider Jesus’ invitation to his disciples, He didn’t pitch His eternal life as a proposal of great value to indecisive consumers.

Jesus’ language would probably be deemed as amateur marketing in our day. He invited his disciples with remarks like “deny yourself” and “take up your cross.” (Matthew 16:24). He made devotion to Him a greater priority than one’s devotion to family, financial investments, or a commitment to a career. (Luke 14:26, Matthew 10:37) He said if these things were a more significant concern, then aspiring followers were “not worthy” of Him. Jesus demanded to be first and full priority in the lives of those who wanted the life He offered.

It seems Christians today celebrate convenient ways of making Jesus a part of their life. The what’s-in-it-for-me approach has conditioned a generation to analyze commitment through a cost-benefit lens. Is following Jesus the greatest passion and hope you can possess? Yes. Is it convenient, easy, and decorated with accolades and warm affirmations? No. The phenomenon of finding a fulfilling life in Jesus is in the complete and utter self-denial that it requires.

To say it simply, you must stop looking for the false finish lines of immediate gratification. You will not be transformed into a mature, powerful, and faithful disciple because you’ve attended a few weekend events, read a book, or been prayed over by a celebrity preacher. To join with the apostle Paul’s identity of saying, “In Him, we live and move and have our being,” you cannot escape the aspect of suffering. There is a narrow and treacherous journey of laying aside the life you want to take up the humble, demanding, and eternal life He gives. This life is not for the faint of heart. It is only for those who hope to give Jesus all He deserves. As I consider the sacrifice we are all called to live, I’m reminded of a true story rehearsed by the Moravian community in Herrenhut, Germany.

After hearing of an island in the West Indies that held two to three thousand enslaved souls, two young Germans in their twenties responded. They volunteered to sell themselves to a British slave trader. As they boarded with fellow enslaved souls, they discarded their freedom to live like Jesus in a captive community.

Knowing cost could come at the expense of their lives, friends and family gathered at the dock to see them embark on their mission. Like a funeral procession, the outcry from their loved ones erupted on the shore as the gap between their ship and the dock widened. In sorrow, some questioned if their sacrifice was wise or necessary. The men knowing the agony and confusion within the community, linked arms, raised their hands, and shouted across the spreading gap, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.”

When the cost of following Jesus results in life-exhausting tensions, provokes the loss of friends and family, drives you to humbly accept injustice, or lay down ill-gained fulfillment, consider these men’s words. “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.” Regardless of the degree of sacrifice required in following Jesus, He is worthy of every price you will pay. What will it cost you to be obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit today? What things of great value will you sacrifice to advance His gospel through your life today?

A devotion to following Jesus that costs you nothing is no devotion at all.

* https://www.thebereancall.org/…/may-lamb-was-slain

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