Chuck Foreman – Teaching Pastor
Jesus had to be the worst marketer ever! Think about it…”If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Mark 8:34-35) To the brothers, James and John, who wanted a piece of the stage and the spotlight with Jesus, he asked, “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”, referring to his impending execution by the Romans. (Matthew 20:22) Or, I bet this one will make you want to follow him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58) Or, what about this one, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21) About Saul, whom we know as the Apostle Paul, he said, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:16) When Jesus told his disciples, “…and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” (Acts 1:8) the word they heard him use in the original language was “martyr”. Our English word, “witness” somehow just doesn’t carry the same unpleasant force.
To be fair, Jesus did promise some pretty great stuff to those who were willing to truly follow him: abundant life, eternal life, living water, peace, forgiveness, reward for faithfulness, joy, his ever-presence, purpose. But he always wanted people to know what they were getting themselves into. He wanted us to know what it would most certainly cost to follow him. It’s a paradox—to lose our lives for Jesus and his Good News, is to find and save our lives. But are we willing to trust him on that? The Apostle Paul was willing and he experienced the faithfulness of God in his life. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul wanted to pass on that assurance to them. He wrote, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 emphasis mine)
Perhaps the key to seeing and experiencing the faithfulness of God is in our own faithfulness. When we stick it out, results come. When we hang in there, he comes through for us. When we endure, God shows up.
After 5 years in Taiwan, we had only one convert. We came so very close to throwing in the towel in those early years when we saw no fruit from our labor. But after 20 years, we saw crowds of Chinese people, once pagan idol worshippers, now worshipping their Creator. We were so glad we didn’t give up. We would have missed out on the harvest God wanted to bring. And he did. He always does. He wants us to stick with him and not give up. So, don’t quit. God isn’t going to either. Just you watch!