Jesus calls us to follow Him. When we respond to His invitation, it is the beginning of an amazing spiritual journey. There is a difference between Cultural Christianity and Committed Christianity. Jesus doesn’t simply want us to be a fan, but a follower of His. In order to do this, we must give our all. Investing our lives in God’s agenda changes our life and impacts the world. The greatest joy in the world is knowing and following Jesus. He gave His all for us, so let’s give our all for Him.
Jesus or the World
The world will try to sell us many different exciting, new things, telling us that these are the things that we should be living for. This isn’t a new concept, either. Even in Scripture, we read that people since the beginning have had to turn from the things of the world and instead choose to live for Jesus. The noise all around us fights for our love and our loyalty. The noise of the world invites us into materialism, self-glorification, and idolatry of things or people.
But these things do not last. Nor will they ever last.
That’s why Jesus tells us in Matthew 16 that we are to DENY ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him. This is no small feat here. However, it is against any and everything that we will hear from the voices around us. The reality is, though, that we cannot in any sense live for both the world and for God. At some point we have to make a decision, and Jesus knew this when He was speaking in Matthew 16. He knew that the disciples He was talking to, and the Christ-followers that would read this in the centuries to come, would have to come to a point in their faith journey where they had to make a choice.
YOU have to make a choice – will you give your all for Jesus?
What the Bible Says about Giving our All
When we read the passage with Jesus’ words about taking up our crosses and following Him, it came from a response to Peter’s bold statement claiming that Jesus will never have to bear suffering, be killed, and resurrected. Peter, a faithful follower of Jesus, hated to hear Jesus speak of Him being murdered and having to go through so much pain. However, Jesus knew, as we all know now, that He would have to go through all of this in order to bring salvation to the world and to His people. Jesus knew what was coming.
His response is evidence of the fact that He knew this, and He also continues by saying that not only will He have to take up His cross, quite literally, but His followers will, too. No, we will not have to bear the weight of the sins of the world, but we will have to deny the world and our own fleshly desires in order to follow Him – and Jesus makes that very clear here. Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it (Matthew 16:24-25). To be Jesus’ disciple is no small position. It requires self-sacrifice, a denial of sinful desires, and an extreme investment in the things of Jesus.
He then continues with saying, What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? (Matthew 16:26) He’s reminding us that the things of this world are so very fleeting, and they will fail us. But what Jesus offers is things that will last forever. Jesus knew that His death was not the end – it was only the beginning! He was coming back, and He has incredible plans for His followers as we prepare for and make more disciples for the sake of the Gospel.
Will you listen to One Voice in your life?
As the people of God, we are called to give our all as God’s Church today. It’s about investing in God’s Kingdom together, as the body of believers on mission to impact eternities and generations. God has incredible plans for His followers, and it’s our time to follow Him. Rather than follow the things of this world, we must lay down our lives and pick up the cross of Jesus.
Jesus gives us an invitation to follow Him. It’s not an invitation to Cultural Christianity or to continue living like the world. It’s a call to Committed Christianity – to be a follower, not just a fan. In order to do this, we must give our all. We must invest in God’s plan, and He, as a result, will change our life and impact the world for His glory. Listening to His voice leads to joy for His people, for the greatest joy in the world is knowing and following Jesus.
He gave His all for us, so let’s give our all for Him.