It may be challenging to be a Christian today, but it is so worth it.
Earlier in my Christian walk, it felt easier to operate within society as a “lukewarm Christian” (Rev 3:16)—being all in the world while dabbling one toe out in faith. Looking back, I suppose this makes sense though (right?) because it’s always easier to swim with the current than against it. Jesus warned His disciples that the world hated Him and therefore, it would hate them also: “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is [however], you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” John 15:18-25. Jesus also said that we cannot serve two masters simultaneously—in this case, the world and Him—or we’ll end up hating the one and loving the other (Matthew 6:24). In other words, we have to choose Jesus or the world, and if we choose Him…well, it won’t be easy.
Those of us who choose to pick up our cross and follow Him anyways are quickly called to a new way of life; swiftly brought to a foreign place of humility and sacrifice. Scripture clearly spells this out—the required way of living, acting, thinking and, generally speaking, all around “being” as a Christian. Our social circles and how we socialize changes. Extra curricular activities change. How we deal with our finances changes. The way we view the world changes. What we do with our time…changes. All of it changes. Some call this the “pruning process”—pruning our lives of that which no longer serves us on the new path forward with Christ.
We soon realize that, spiritually speaking, our minds, bodies and soul no longer belong to us the way they used to. We sign over those rights to Christ, the rightful owner, who patiently waits for every soul to do so. We slowly (and often painfully) become emptied out vessels, waiting to be filled up with Jesus’ love, guidance and divine will. While this decision (to fully surrender or not) is made individually by every Christ-seeking believer. It is a decision that while difficult, proves to be the most magical, divine and supernatural experience this side of Heaven.
Every person’s conversion story and journey is different (mine was a slow and painful decade-long burn), but the initial command is always the same, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” followed by, “for whoever would save his life, will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” Matthew 16:24-25. I have found such comfort in these words. Before my conversion, it appeared as though I had everything—a marriage, beautiful kids, a vocation I loved, etc—but the truth was, while I was trying to ‘save my life’, I was losing it…just as Jesus said I would. I had everything “the world” had to offer and told me I should have, but I had never once consulted with Jesus—in fact I didn’t know Him—and my soul was empty. I had no proper (divine) guidance or direction, my marriage was toxic and I was lonely, scared and never content or at peace. Happiness was nothing but a fleeting and scarce emotion. All of that changed when I surrendered and ‘gave up my life for His sake.’ I thank God that He found me (and loved me) where I was as I was. I thank God that He showed me what it meant to follow Him…and how beautiful that journey was when I finally trusted Him in all ways. It took many years to fully surrender, but now everything about my life is different. Even when life is difficult and uncertain, and it often is, I am never afraid. I have personally experienced the truth of God’s Word—specifically that we have nothing to fear. He is here for us and hears our every prayer. And, He is indeed a good Father Who loves us and wants the very best for us.
The cross may be heavy, and it may be difficult to follow Christ in our culture, but make no mistake…the world can never give as Christ gives. If you are seeking a lasting Peace and joy like I was, a relationship with Jesus is all you will ever need—and it all starts with a simple, “yes.”
God Bless you!