Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.-Mark 8:34-38
What are the characteristics of disciples or followers of Jesus? They have decided to forgo living for themselves and have instead decided to give their life to serving and following Jesus. Why would they make this decision? For the simple reason that they realize that it does matter in the end how much worldly wealth they have, if they have had to sell their soul to the enemy of all things good, right and holy to get their worldly possessions. Now for the most important question of all. Have you decided to full follow Jesus? Have you decided that you don’t care what the world thinks of you, because you are going to do what you have been called to do no matter what. Because if you still care what the world thinks then you have not fully committed to following Jesus. Remember there is no middle ground when it comes to following Jesus. There is no fencing sitting or making both sides happy. If you don’t believe me here are the words of Jesus himself spoken to John (the author of the book of Revelation) concerning a church in modern day Turkey.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.-Revelation 3:15-16 NIV
These words were written to the Church in Laodicea, but they could easily describe those of us who calling ourselves “Christians” in the 21st century. For we have the same problem as the Laodiceans. We want our get out of hell free card, but we still want to be accepted and liked by the world around us. But we fail to realize is that is so much more to being a “Christian” then just getting a get of hell free card. The whole point of being a follower of Jesus is that you have fallen radically in love with him. And when you fall radical in love with someone you give up the things that are harmful to that relationship. And when we don’t give up those things that are harmful to that relationship, then the relationship never develops into its full potential.
You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.-Revelation 3:17-18 NIV