Challenge from Christ

  • Peter Friesen, Author
  • Retired Minister

Mark 8:34-37… 34) Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35) For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36) What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37) Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (NIV)

Jesus certainly was not like our modern-day TV. Evangelists. I can never say an Evangelist tricked me into believing Christ. Jesus never tried to bribe people with the offer of wealth, or all the easy things that life might bring. He did not even offer us peace; He did, however; offer us glory. He told us that we must be ready to accept the Cross of Christ, and when we do, we might just be marked for life and suffer miserably for it. Jesus never sought to lure his followers to him by offering them all that easy stuff; what he did was to challenge us, to awaken the sleeping courage deep in our souls. He came not to make life easy but to make Christian men, women, girls, and boys great in. the eyes of God. Christ was not the kind of leader who sat far off and played with the lives of people. What he demanded what we should face, he, too, was ready to face. He has every right to call on us to accept a cross, for he himself went to the cross to die that we could have eternal life.

Our Scripture lesson we have Jesus challenging the men who would be his disciples. And the first thing he tells them to do is, “Let them deny themselves.” In other words, “Let us say no to ourselves.” Now if a person wants to follow Jesus Christ, we must say no to ourselves and yes to Christ. In other words, we must say no to our own natural love of things that are against God’s laws. You mean I cannot tell half-truths. If I always must be completely truthful, how do you expect me to sell… say my house, my car, my condominium, or whatever else that I might want to sell? We must, however, say no to the instincts and the desires which prompt us to play with half truths, because half truths will come back to bite us. We must say no to the instincts and the desires to touch, taste and manage the forbidden things of life… those things we know for certain which are against God’s laws. But we must, however; say yes to the voice and the commands of Jesus Christ. We must be able to say, that it is no longer we who are in control of our lives, but the power of the Holy Spirit that lives within us. That means we follow the will of Christ, we must learn to be completely truthful, and believe that he will guide us in any given situation and when we do that, we will find perfect freedom.

Suppose we do that which is not honorable; and we go for the half truth. We say yes to the instincts and the desires to touch, taste and manage the forbidden things of life. Now suppose that we gain the entire world because we have always lived on the shady side of life. Then suppose we find out that life is not worth living any more. What can we give to undo the damage done? The grim truth is that we cannot redeem that moment in time. In every decision of life, we are doing something to ourselves; we are making ourselves a certain person; we are building up steadily and inevitable a certain kind of character; we are making ourselves able to do certain things and unable to do those things which are bad for us. It is perfectly possible for a person to gain all the things they set their heart on and then to awaken one morning to find that they have missed the most important things in life.

A person may sacrifice eternity for the moment. However, we could avoid all kinds of mistakes if we always looked at things in the light of eternity. What is pleasant for the moment, but oh so painful later in life. A person who gets their wealth by unjust means, will lose their riches at the end of life, becoming nothing but a poor fool The test of eternity, the test of looking to see the things as God sees it, is the greatest test of all. The person who sees things as God sees them will never spend their life on things that cost salvation. But on the other hand, salvation, the way to heaven, comes to us when we put away the shady things in life… and put our trust in Jesus Christ… To God Be the Glory Great Things He Has Done.

Would you pray this prayer with me? “Lord Jesus, come into my heart. Forgive my sins. I want my life to change. My thoughts and my attitude need to change. I do not have the peace in my heart that I yearn for. I want that peace, joy and happiness that fulfills my heart’s desire. Please let the Holy Spirit help me be the kind of Christian that will honor Your Name. Amen”