I met James yesterday. His smile lights up the room and he has a deep laugh that comes from a true place of joy. When you talk to him, you’re immediately drawn to his genuine spirit.
Jesus oozes out of him.
James recently drove 16 hours in a faith-cranked car, leaving his wife and four children behind until he can move them later, when God provides a place for them to stay.
He is living out faith in a way that shouts loud and loves deep.
His wife grew up as a Muslim. She became a Christian in college, and her father later tried to kill her.
I complain this morning because it’s Monday and there’s lots of work piled up in the office as I prepare for another 8-hour day. And then I think of James and all the others who have sacrificed much for the sake of Jesus.
James is here in partnership with our church to do a church-planting internship. He has to raise his support in an area where he knows no one. In the meantime, he is living with one of our pastors and trusting in a big God who has led him on one amazing road after another.
He is living out Luke 9:23.
” . . . if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (KJV)
We think we follow Jesus, but do we really? What have we denied ourselves lately, just for the sake of the cross of Christ? What has being a Christian cost us?
God may not call us to leave everything behind and go plant a church. He may not ask us to go to Africa as a full-time missionary or to pastor a church. Those are specific callings.
But Jesus calls us to follow Him. And if we read God’s word, looking at the life Jesus lived, then to follow Him is to pattern our life after His.
He loved the unlovable. As He went about His daily life, He went out of His way to heal, and touch, and love, crossing strict social, racial, religious, and economic barriers.
He ministered in the messy, and it was not a faith of convenience.
We can sit on the nice cushioned pews on Sunday morning and sing praises deep from our hearts. And we can hear a message that stirs our soul, but if we walk out the door and nothing changes, what does that say about our faith?
I heard someone say something once that has stuck with me: Even though it’s hard to imagine, just pretend for a moment that you suddenly denounce your faith and decide that you aren’t going to believe in God anymore. Other than the fact that you would no longer be in church on Sunday morning, how different would your life really be?
Would anybody even notice? Would what you do on a daily basis be affected? Would your words be any different? Would your passion, your time, and your priorities change much at all?
Is our faith a faith of convenience or will we truly follow Jesus into whatever He is calling us to do . . . even the hard things?
Maybe God wants you to merely pick up the phone and check on your elderly neighbor. Maybe He is calling you to teach a bible study, cook a meal for a struggling family, volunteer at the soup kitchen, start a blog, or go on a 10-day mission trip.
I think too often, we sit and wait for some big revelation from God, and so we don’t do anything at all. But Jesus didn’t save us just so we could sit comfortably. He says we are to follow and that means we need to get up off the pew and into the lives of others.
There are needs all around us. Pray and ask God to open your eyes and stretch your faith. Then, like James, be prepared to leave convenience behind and go do the hard stuff.