Truly, one of the hardest passages for many believers to grasp concerns what Jesus meant when He said told the disciples the following:
(24) "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (25) For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (26) For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (27) For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works" (Matthew 16:24-27).
It's not that it's a difficult passage to understand but that the requirements contained in it are difficult to carry out. For one, to make the sacrifice of denying oneself and being willing to share in the sufferings of Christ one must truly know the value of having a solid intimate relationship with Christ. Every Christian should ask themselves: What does Jesus truly mean to me, my family, and my culture? If we cannot say everything and then back it with a sold out and obedient commitment to Christ we will fail every situation that garners the opportunity to bring glory to His name. Personally speaking, I asked that very question to myself over thirty years ago after I was faced with making a decision I knew would bring damage to my relationship with Christ if I did not follow through with my public affirmation of faith. I was not prepared for what awaited me afterwards. But I can tell you this, it did not take long for my faith to come under fire in a huge way propelling me to dig in deeper. At that moment, for me, I knew it was either all or nothing.
Fellow believer, please hear this. When we make the decision to stand for Jesus no matter the consequence He will be right there with us. He will back up His promises. He will provide. He will give us strength. Since that day I have been sent home from work multiple times, suspended, come under public humiliation, had the wagons of the unbelieving circled around me, and been laughingly derided -- even by my own family! I cannot tell you how many times I have sat and cried for hours praying with streaming tears to God: Why me? Why do I have to endure this pain? I can tell you that emotionally it is the hardest thing I have ever experienced. But it is also the most rewarding. Each time God carried me through. He never failed.
To make a stand for Christ not only takes a solid relationship to God, it also takes a heartfelt desire to see others come to know Jesus. Our witness for Jesus before the public or in our sphere of influence is continually under the scrutinizing eye of the public. We must live out who we say we are. One afternoon after being asked (rather told) to print Playboy magazine subscription letters at the beginning of my shift, I looked down the press row and saw twelve other pressman watching to see how I would respond. Talk about daunting. Nothing short of a miracle, an answer to prayer, delivered me in that possible "witness destroying" moment. You can read about it here: A Modern Story of Faith. God brought me through then and and He will bring you through as well. After that incident the power of Christ fell and men and women alike became easily approachable turning conversation toward Jesus in a very meaningful way. On another occasion, after I left one job for another, I received notice a few months later about how nearly all I had worked with had turned their lives to Christ. Only God could do that work.
So, it should be no surprise to any who know me that when the tickets go on sale for God's Not Dead 2 I and my family will be the first in line. I am asking you to also allow the Lord to have His way in your life. If going to this film will help then please do. But in the meantime never quit reminding yourself what Jesus truly means.
For a deeper look at the need to take a strong stand for Jesus please visit www.thesiftedgeneration.com. There you can find out some faith affirming information and view how you can purchase the new book, "The Sifted Generation, Tested, Tried, and Found True!"