Friday, June 14 2024 - 10:01 AM
Photo by Allen Taylor with Unsplash

Following Jesus is Risky

When Jesus came to Israel and revealed himself as God’s son, it cost him his life. It was not the secularists or liberal Romans who felt most threatened by his claims, it was the religious people. The “church” goers. The religious elite. The God-believers. Their established view of God did not allow Jesus to be the kind of Messiah he claimed to be, and when he presented himself as such—as God’s very son, they viewed it as “fake news” and believed it was their duty to resist him.

Today, some God-followers in America want us to believe that our greatest enemies are secularists, humanists and liberals. They have crafted a doctrinal alliance that presents specific cultural hot button issues that they claim need to be destroyed. Their argument is that God needs Christians everywhere to unite against these evils, and that if we don’t, God will punish America for her sins.

It is interesting that Jesus never gave such a mandate to the early church, and there is no such directive found anywhere in Scripture. The assignment that Jesus gave the disciples before his departure was,

“Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, The Message).

Heart Transformation

The focus of the mission was, and still is, heart transformation, not of ridding our culture or the world of evil. The present fascination that some Christians have with politics is luring them away from the very work they’re called to do. Personal conversion and deliverance from the power of sin is what we need. To a large extent, when hearts are made right, many of the problems that plague us as a culture diminish as well. Yet, Christians will continue to be the recipients of persecution and misunderstanding till the end of time. This should not be surprising. Jesus said,

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NLT).

Being God-like got Jesus killed, and being like Jesus is certain to bring us trouble, to some degree. It comes with the territory. Jesus said,

“My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36, NLT).

In Harmony With God

Does this mean we should not try to make the world a better place? Of course not! It means that when we are in harmony with God, the Mustard-seed-effect kicks in. Then God’s influence is diffused through us to others. As a result we are motivated to feed the hungry, prevent violence against women and children, reduce poverty, visit the sick and more. Jesus explained that his followers were to make people thirsty for God by their acts of kindness and compassion.

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12, NLT).

Occupied Territory

Following Jesus is risky because we live in “occupied territory.” The apostle Peter said, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are” (1 Peter 5:8-9, NLT).

It was the “church” who killed Jesus. And the time will come when some “Christians” will again feel justified in killing those who don’t accept their version of “truth.”

Contrast this with John’s observation,

“If anyone claims, ‘I am living in the light,’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness” (1 John 2:9, NLT).

Final Proof of Truth

For the Christian, the final proof of authenticity is not which church they belong to, or even which doctrines they believe. The devil knows the truth, yet it has not changed him for the better. It is possible to believe all of the right things for the wrong reasons.

“The Anarchist’s coming is all Satan’s work. All his power and signs and miracles are a fake, evil sleight of hand that plays to the gallery of those who hate the truth that could save them. And since they’re so obsessed with evil, God rubs their noses in it—gives them what they want. Since they refuse to trust truth, they’re banished to their chosen world of lies and illusions” (2 Thessalonians 2:11, The Message).

This doesn’t have to be. We can journey to a place of healing and joy if we accept the provision that God has made for us through his son, Jesus.

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future” (John 16:13, NLT).

Rich DuBose writes from Northern California.

© 2002 - 2024, All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.

About Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

writes from Northern California

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy