Do you ever just stop and thank God for allowing you to live in a country where you can freely worship Him? I’ve been reading a book by Voice of the Martyrs about Christians throughout the world and the price they pay for their faith. I am astounded by their depth of love for Jesus and their willingness to take a stand for Him no matter what.
In America it doesn’t seem to cost very much to be a believer in Jesus. Oh, you might have someone disassociate with you because of it, but the hardships seem to end there. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus says “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” That sounds really good until we look at the places Jesus went and how He was treated. People in many countries realize by making that profession of faith they are putting their very life on the line.
In America, we want to be a Christian as long as it doesn’t hurt. We even have preachers who preach the prosperity message without acknowledging it is only part of being a follower of Christ. Christ also calls us to share in His sufferings [Romans 8:17]. He tells us we will have trouble in this life [John 16:33]. When we do begin to suffer or have a hardship, we begin asking God why He has allowed this to happen and beg Him to deliver us from it. There will be hard times, but with the Lord we will be victorious [Romans 8:37]. As a culture, we’ve tried to make Jesus an American. We seem to have forgotten that we were made in His image and instead have tried to shape Him into our image [Genesis 1:27]. We tend to give Him part of our lives instead of the whole. We are called to give Him our whole heart, not just the Sunday portion [Deuteronomy 6:5].
What would happen in our country if we spent an hour a day focused on Jesus through prayer, worship and the study of God’s Word instead of just on Sundays? How would our marriages and our other relationships look if we focused more on Him and what He calls us to do than ourselves? What if we gave up a lunch date with a friend to have a lunch date with Him? What if instead of walking 18 holes we walked our neighborhoods praying for our neighbors?
Don’t get me wrong, I love lunch with friends and have no problem with people playing golf; however, when we invest more of our time on our purposes instead of God’s purpose we miss out on all He has planned for us. We don’t experience the abundant life He speaks of in John 10:10. Jesus Christ held none of Himself back from you when He died on the cross [Matthew 20:28]. How much of yourself are you willing to give Him in return?