“Maybe the things Jesus asks people to do are so hard that they do not want to do it,” says Maggie, 11. “It’s easier to quit.”
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is difficult because one is usually swimming upstream against the current of this world. Becoming a Christian is as easy as reaching out by faith to receive the gift of eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ as your savior.
Think of the distinction between salvation and discipleship as two crosses. Jesus died on a cross and rose again to pay for our salvation. This is the cross that he carried to Calvary to secure salvation for all who believe in him. Let’s call it the salvation cross.
The salvation cross cost us nothing. Jesus hung on it alone while God judged him for our sins. We receive the benefits from the work he completed.
The discipleship cross starts with denying yourself. It’s costly to us, but the blessings and rewards from following Jesus last forever. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
The cross is the ultimate instrument of death. The tremendous irony is that the road to living by God’s life travels daily through Death Valley. “I die daily,” wrote the Apostle Paul (I Corinthians 15:31).
The same apostle wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Dayanna, 11, says some Christians don’t follow Jesus because “they are self-absorbed. They think they can do life all by themselves. They think they don’t need God.”
God knows how to get the attention of Christians who try to live independently from him (Hebrews 12:6). The self-centered life will lead to misery because it’s too small. God created us in his own image for greater things.
Christians are redeemed people with a heavenly destiny. Jesus wants believers to reign and rule with him in his coming kingdom. That rule can start now through Christians who allow Jesus to use them to bring people into his eternal kingdom.
When Jesus introduced himself as the bread of life who came down from heaven, many of his disciples complained. “From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more” (John 6:66).
Being a disciple is not for the timid or faint of heart. Every Christian will be evaluated at the judgment seat of Christ, not to determine one’s eternal destiny, but to determine rewards and authority in God’s eternal kingdom (I Corinthians 3:1-17). For faithful Christians, this will be a time of great rejoicing. But for Christians who lived self-centered lives instead of Christ-centered lives, they will suffer great loss. Not loss of eternal salvation, but loss of rewards that glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.
“People get so obsessed with celebrities and electronics that they don’t think about God. God is more important,” says Micaela, 11.
Think about this: Jesus died not only to redeem us from eternal death, but he rose from the dead that we might live by his overcoming life.
Memorize this truth: Galatians 2:20 previously quoted.
Ask these questions: Are you allowing Jesus to live through you to accomplish his purpose? Are you experiencing the exhilaration of the Lord’s abundant life?
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