If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:26 NAS)
I served as a librarian when I was in high school. At that time, much of the library's administration and cataloging depended on the typewriter, so I was sent to the YMCA to acquire typewriting skills. While at the YMCA, I read in a brochure about a free Christian correspondence course, so I enrolled and got to know about Christianity. Before long, faith found its way into my heart.
One day, while at the public library near my school, a student from another school approached me and invited me to attend a church-organized student meeting near the library’s vicinity. My first visit was to an evangelistic meeting, and having learned much about Jesus through several Christian correspondence courses, I was ready and received Jesus as my Lord immediately.
Among the first lessons I learned as a new Christian was ‘to obey is better than sacrifice.’ At the age of 15, I was in a dilemma to obey God or man concerning water baptism. I knew if I decide to obey God and be baptized, I would have to disobey my parents who are ardent followers of Taoism. If I have asked for permission, my parents would have objected, and if they had known the date of the baptism, they would have locked me up and barred me from ever getting involved with Christianity again. I was after all still a minor under their governance, too young legally to make my own decision.
Troubled over the matter, I sought help from my pastor who counseled me and advised me “to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). What he meant was if obedience to God is such a difficult decision for me to make, then I should not go ahead with water baptism until I am ready to willingly give myself to God. I chose then to skip my first opportunity of water baptism.
Over the next few months, my heart was troubled because of my disobedience to God. I was yearning to serve God in the student ministry, but without obedience in water baptism, it was impossible for me to serve Him wholeheartedly. It then became clear to me that although salvation is received the moment I invite Jesus into my heart, water baptism is a necessary step to declare my faith in Him. Getting baptized is the outward expression of my obedience; a witness to myself and to the public.
So when the next baptism came, I chose to disobey my parents and went ahead with water baptism in obedience to my heavenly Father. My life took a turn after that when I told my parents what I had done. Throughout the genealogy of my family, every member has remained a follower of Taoism, and what I did was deemed by my parents as unforgivable, an act of rebellion, and a violation of trust. For many years since, I was persecuted.
Initially, my parents tried to bring me back to their fold by punishing me. I was starved, disciplined, and locked up on occasions, but eventually they gave me up as lost after I repeatedly refused to participate in their religious practices, which included ancestral worship and bowing down to idols. I became to my parents as one who had gone astray and not known my own roots, and to the people of the community a renegade and an outcast.
Obeying God is not always easy. Whether we are a youth or an adult, there is often a price to pay when we choose to obey God. Yet, we must not to be disheartened, but ought instead to count all things loss for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. Honor God and God will give us honor (Philippians 3:8; 1 Samuel 2:30; John 12:26).
Dear Lord, thank You for granting us Your salvation the moment we receive You as our Lord and Savior. Help us not be ashamed to declare to the world our faith in You, and to obey You in all areas of our lives because of our love for You. Grant us the courage to choose the narrow way that leads to life even when persecutions prelude our obedience. You are the way, the truth, and the life, and in You alone we have eternal life.