This morning, I was deep in study when something struck me…to my core.
What would I give up for Jesus?
No, not like a Lent thing…meat, chocolate, coffee, Facebook. What would I SACRIFICE?
I was reading the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19.
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
This has been coming up a lot lately in my study. Sacrifice. We see it all throughout the Bible, from Old to New Testament…we see people leaving their homes, families, and walking away from life as they knew it. Moses gave up Egypt and the life of wealth and privilege. The disciples left their jobs and families to follow Christ. Eventually, that cost them their lives. Yet, this rich guy couldn’t walk away from his wealth.
It’s really easy…sitting in the comfort of my kitchen, sipping my coffee, reading a Bible without fear of being seen…to say that I’d die for Christ if and when I were confronted with the choice. But, would I? For real?
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32
God didn’t spare his Son and nothing is off-limits to us. He gave ALL.
I was reading the story of Danjuma Shakau in the magazine called The Voice of the Martyrs. (Aug 2015 publication) At age 13, he knows true sacrifice better than I could even imagine. Boko Haram entered his Christian village in Nigeria (just a skip across the ocean, folks!) and began to attack without question. They cut out his eye, hacked his arm, and removed his genitals. AND HE LIVED. Do you see that smile? He is quoted as saying, “I forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing. If they had love, they wouldn’t behave that way.”
There was also the story of Solomon Samaila- also in Nigeria- who was told, “This is the end of the road. You have only one choice left: Follow Islam”. When he refused to deny Christ, they doused him with gasoline, ran him over with a dirt bike -which ignited the fuel- and left the bike on top of him as he burned. AND HE LIVED. He said, “Christ, Himself , suffered. The salvation I have in Christ was not free, but paid with a price to save me. So I equally feel I am prepared to suffer in persecution for the salvation I have in Christ, I won’t turn back.”
When asked the question, “Would you die for Christ?” the verbal answer is always “Yes!”…when frankly, here in this country that is such an abstract idea. True sacrifice isn’t a week without internet or cancelling a cable subscription. Persecution for us in this country is losing your job for your beliefs or being shunned by family, friends and neighbors. While things here are just now starting to “heat up”; for these people, true sacrifice is very real. And today, in my study, sacrifice was something that I really started to ponder. What if it wasn’t a quick death I was agreeing to…what if it was loosing an eye with the tip of a knife, having members of my body removed and enduring flames…and living through the pain? Torture. Or watching my children tortured or murdered? Would I agree to that? My answer has to be “yes”. Christ’s answer was “yes”.
God didn’t withhold the life of His Son, Jesus, from me. Is there anything in my life I would withhold from Him? Suddenly, leaving home and family and all my stuff to follow Him doesn’t look like such a big sacrifice.
Lord, help me to truly understand the sacrifice that was made for me. Give me strength to make true sacrifices for You.