I have decided to follow Jesus.
It’s a popular phrase. We sing it in church and Sunday School. It’s easy to say and it sounds really good. In the right circles, it’s popular.
Tonight I watched a documentary about Hinduism in India. In parts of that country, Christians are often murdered for conversion. At a secret baptism service along a river, Indian believers sang I Have Decided to Follow Jesus. The weight of those words within such a context pierced my soul with a sharp blade of conviction. For believers in India, deciding to follow Jesus literally means putting their safety, comfort, and even their lives on the line. The very words “I have decided to follow Jesus” mean earth-shattering changes for those who sing them. For Indian converts, following Jesus is a radical step that is only worth taking if He really means everything to them.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:35b)
Is there any cost involved?
Circle the globe back to the Pacific Northwest and my comfortable home. I have decided to follow Jesus. (By the way, I decided this because He’d chosen me first…but that’s a thought for another post.) So what does my life look like in light of that step of faith? How do my actions and lifestyle reflect a soul that is sold out for Christ? Is there any cost involved in my desire to walk with God? What sacrifices am I making, or willing to make, for the sake of the Savior? Would the faith within me hold up under the pressure of real persecution? Would I have the courage to sing I Have Decided to Follow Jesus along the secluded bank of a murky river in India? How much does Jesus mean to me, really?
I am far too complacent.
I know that the Spirit of God is alive and working in my heart; there is proof all over of His hand, and for the evidence of His grace in me, I am deeply grateful. But I also know that I am far too complacent in my walk with Him. So I shared Jesus at the mall two weeks ago and probably will again in four months. Whoopty doo. Across the ocean, there are believers watching their family members be murdered because they are unashamed of the gospel. Now that’s sacrifice.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
They risk their very lives to tell others the Good News.
Indian churches are packed with saints who will sit for hours pouring over the Word of God and worshiping him together, because Jesus Christ and the fellowship they share through Him are all they’ve got. Here, I cop an attitude about attending evening service because I already spent the morning at church. There, believers desperately ransack their Bibles every chance they get for strength, comfort, and God’s promises. Here, I prioritize a movie or emails over one-on-one time with my Savior. There, Christians risk their very lives to tell others the Good News. Here, I dodge conversations about the gospel for fear of creating an “awkward” situation.
Cheap, lackadaisical Christianity is far too easy to slip into in North America, and I for one am determined to fight it with all I’ve got in the power of the Holy Spirit. If someone looks my way, it should be obvious in my behavior and lifestyle that I am 100% committed to Jesus Christ.
Father, help me to take seriously the decision to follow You. Let me be sold out for You, willing and eager to put all on the line for Your glory. Help my heart to fight the tendency to grow complacent in my passion for You. Keep my soul on fire for You, and make me a faithful beacon of light in the darkness around me.
How does your daily life reflect a heart that follows Jesus?
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galations 2:20)