Following Jesus is a costly decision. Before you follow him, you should decide whether this commitment is worth the price.
When I was in seminary I went to Vietnam to change the world for Jesus Christ. I went to make a major impact for God's kingdom. Soon after I went to Vietnam I realized God did not send me there to change other's lives, he sent me there to change my life. You see, in Vietnam God used a local believer to open my eyes to understand what a genuine follower is.
I can still see his face as clear as day. We went to Vietnam to help our mission board find different groups of people, but we also went to meet and encourage this one believer. (I'm going to us a line from an old TV show: dragnet here "This story is true, the names are changed to protect the innocent.") I will simply call my friend Tom.
Tom was a believer living in communist Vietnam. What exactly does that mean? In Vietnam a person's standard of living is in large degree determined by their standing in the communist party. Your job, income and social status are all affected by how high you rise in the party.
One of requirements of being in the communist party is declaring yourself an atheist. In other words, any person who chooses to follows Christ also chooses to reject one of the main tenants of communism and in turn ensures for themselves a life of poverty.
Tom, when he chose to follow Jesus Christ, chose to follow him whole heartedly rejecting atheism and accepting poverty.
I remember the conversation we had that largely helped me understand what following Jesus was all about. I asked him why he didn't just follow Jesus secretly like so many believers do. I couldn't understand why he didn't just tell the government what they wanted to here, securing a "good life" for himself, all the while living for Jesus out of their reach.
In our brief conversation Tom taught me the lesson I will never forget. He told me "Wes, doesn't the bible say that a man cannot serve two masters?"
In this one direct and straightforward answer Tom described his commitment to Jesus Christ. He showed that a true disciple is willing to sacrifice everything to know Jesus. Tom accepted poverty and hardship so that he might gain Christ. Tom gave up his standing in the community and any hope of gaining worldly standing or success.
Would I be willing to do the same?
This coming Sunday we will be looking at two parents who saw God preform a miracle in their child's life. Following the miracle the these two parents were given the choice of maintaing their status in society of believing in the work of Jesus Christ. These two, that we will look at Sunday, chose to reject Jesus and his work in their son because they loved their social standing more.
What would you choose?