Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Challenge

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them,If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. Mark 8:34-35
First Jesus offered the fishermen a change and then he offered them a challenge: “Come with me and I will make you fishers of men.”
Christianity is a challenge. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.  It has always amazed me that non-Christians look upon Christians as weak and naive. I am not sure where that perception started but next time I’d like to say to these people, “Alright, you think it is so easy being a Christian, let’s see you try.  First, I want you to stop lying. Then stop cheating people in your business practices, don’t steal, don’t stretch the truth, just let your yesbe yesand your nobe no.  Don’t hate your enemies and pray for those who hate you.  And on top of all this pray every day, fast on occasion, give as much of your money away to the poor as you reasonably can while still taking care of your family.  And when you leave home each day make every effort to tell the world that the reason you are doing all this is because some guy 2000 years ago claimed to be God, died on a cross, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is coming back one day to judge the living and the dead.  Let’s see you do that?”  My friends, Christianity is a challenge and requires a commitment to follow.  
The world thinks we are naïve.  They have gotten the impression, I think from some of the “Christian television,” that we are all think Jesus is going to solve all our problems and that life will be full of sandy white beaches, juicy fruits, foreign peoples, priceless treasures, and gorgeous landscapes. They forget that our captain died on a cross, His first followers were all martyred and Paul was imprisoned, flogged, whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, robbed, betrayed, hungry, thirsty, cold, and naked.  We know life can be hard. We are not naïve.  We are Christians.  We know we shall suffer in this life and sometimes for the sake of the Gospel. But we are up for the challenge.
There is something else we know as well.  While all of the above paints what seems to be an impossible task, we have learned that it becomes natural for one who has Christ as Lord in their life.  You see, the task is impossible if it becomes a tangle of rules, laws and commandments. The Pharisees tried all of that. But Jesus does not say, “I am going to commandyou to fish for men.” He said, I will makeyoufishers of men.  There is a big difference.  The challenge was not in changing what they did but in surrendering to Him and being transformed.
Does a Christian really feel overwhelmed in having to care, having to share or having to bear a burden with someone?  Of course not!  It is the joy and privilege of a believer to sacrifice their life for the greater privilege and purpose of bring in the Kingdom of God and sharing in His ministry. Christianity is not a label for doing good things.  It is the lifestyle of one who is a Christian...“a little Christ.”  The challenge of being a Christian is Lordship in our lives.
Want to make a difference today?  Accept the challenge of becoming a fisher of men.

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps… 1 Peter 2:21

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