Ask A Pastor
Scott T. Sharp, Pastor
First Baptist Church Nashville
Question: "What does it take to be a follower of Jesus in the world today?"
I wish I could tell you that once you become a follower of Jesus Christ all the challenges and tough times of life come to an end.
There are many so-called Christian leaders and pastors who are preaching exactly that message today, but unfortunately their message is simply not true.
If anything, I would tell you that just the opposite is true and all that’s required to prove that following Jesus is not recipe for a carefree life is to take a quick look at the life of the Apostle Paul in scripture.
Paul was arguably the greatest apostle ever to follow Jesus Christ and here’s what he writes in 2 Corinthians 11: “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.”
In his book The Cost of Discipleship, German Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer makes this statement: “When Jesus asks a man to come and follow him, he asks that man to come and die.”
Scripture also says that if we are going to be disciples of Jesus Christ, we too must be willing to take up our cross and follow Him.
So what do these things mean? Once we become Christians and disciples of Jesus Christ, our personal values, the basis of our decision making and our willingness to be involved in certain types activities change – at least they should. And we soon discover that being a follower of Jesus Christ puts us at odds with secular society on a lot of different levels.
That being true, the differences we have with the secular world usually tend to make life as a Christian more challenging as opposed to less challenging.
Thus, we learn it takes a strong and real commitment to follow Jesus in today’s world.
What makes the challenge worthwhile, however, is this simple truth:
As our lifestyle becomes increasingly holy, our happiness also increases. Holiness and happiness are inextricably linked.
That is not what secular society would have us to believe, but it is the truth.
Striving to live a life of holiness which is pleasing to God will cause the differences we have with secular society to become more pronounced, but the benefits far exceed the concessions.
Furthermore, as the Apostle Paul wrote, we can do all things through the empowerment of Jesus Christ who strengthens us with His Spirit.