A radical call
“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword…. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” NIV
We make our altar calls so easy – if you want to accept Jesus Christ as your savior, just discreetly wave your hand from somewhere in the crowd. We rarely talk about the cost of being a follower of Jesus, or the cross that comes with it. Jesus did not hide the huge commitment He was asking, demanding, of those who would be His followers. His call was a radical call, requiring total sacrifice, total surrender, total service.
He demanded public acknowledgement by His followers of His Lordship. Silent, private Christianity would not do. He demanded devotion to Him above devotion to everyone and everything else. It would mean division, separation and rejection but He had to be first or not at all. He did not promise a nice peaceful life but a life of hardship and struggle. He insisted that no one could follow Him without a cross upon his back. There was work to be done and the personal cost would be great.
He made no secret that His call was a call to sacrifice and surrender. To say “yes” to Jesus then, was to say “no” to our own life, our own agenda, our own personal dreams and ambitions so that we can take up His life, His agenda, His dream. There was no doubt whatsoever that it was going to be tough, costly and demanding. In fact, many of the people who heard Him turned away, unwilling to pay so high a price.
You know, the church of Jesus Christ was built on that kind of Christianity. Men and women who answered such a radical call carried the Gospel to the far corners of the earth with signs following. And the church of Jesus Christ can only be sustained by such a radical call.
In those parts of the world where this radical call is made, and answered, the Kingdom of God is advancing dramatically. In those parts of the world where an effeminate, easy, self-centered, non-sacrificial, compromised, bless-me kind of Gospel is preached, the church is withering – the lost are not saved, the captives are not set free, the signs do not follow.
It is not enough to sit in our comfortable churches and, when we can spare the time, pray for the Holy Spirit to move, pray for God to send revival, pray for God to change the destiny of our nation. The truth is there is not going to be revival without radical Christians committed to the radical call of Jesus. We want God to send revival; God wants to send us!
It is time to preach again the radical call of Jesus and to remind those who would answer that call that this is an invitation to take up a cross, an invitation to “blood, sweat and tears.” It’s going to be tough. Its going to require commitment and sacrifice. Its going to require laying down much of what we treasure, for the sake of Jesus. We better remind them to count the cost before they sign up. Not many might answer such a call but better a few radical followers than hundreds of indifferent ones.
We can’t go on with this self-centered, bless-me kind of religion; it is killing the church and stifling the move of the Spirit.
Please, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to convict you about Jesus’ call to be His follower and what that really means for you. Jesus made a radical call to those who would follow Him; its time to consider how we have answered that call.