For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21 NAS)
When asked what are the pros and cons of living in the city, a New Yorker replied that “public transportation is the best thing since sliced bread.”
“Hop on a bus or train for about $2 a ride and it takes you to most places in the city,” wrote the New Yorker nicknamed ‘meep meep’ in a discussion thread at Answers. Yahoo.com. “It’s easy access and you don’t have to deal with gas or cars. A lot of things are easily available. You can go out and find record stores, button stores, any type of cuisine … lots of diversity, which helps you expand your horizons when it comes to knowledge, culture and friendships.”
On the flip side living in the city, however, is “it can be extremely impersonal” ‘meep meep’ continued. “Overcrowding can be very annoying … the air’s not what you call good quality … everything’s a tad bit more expensive.”
Like the good and the bad about living in the city, many people today think of faith and belief in God as something worth their while only if it yields returns of invested time, perhaps getting blessed with material wealth or opportunities to connect or network with people of prestige. Notwithstanding the fact that God promised in His word He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory, there are sadly some of us who fall away fairly quickly when living the Christian life becomes too difficult. To these people, faith is all about the pros and cons.
What a contrast in the days of Jesus’ ministry on earth when discipleship is all about giving our all to follow the Lord (Luke 14:33).
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple,” Jesus said. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37-38).
By this, of course, Jesus is not saying we should hate our parents, spouse, children, siblings or even our own life because of following Him. It just means Christian discipleship requires that above all we put Jesus first in our lives and carry our own cross in enduring afflictions, reproaches, persecutions, and whatever is disagreeable to the Christian faith, even death, to follow after Jesus.
Are we following Jesus the way expected of a true disciple or are we weighing the pros and cons? Are we putting Jesus first in our lives above all else? Are we willing to take our own cross and bear up in the face of whatever is disagreeable to the faith?
Discipleship demands we live our lives for Christ, knowing that to die is gain. Whoever clings to his or her own life will lose it, but the one who loses his or her life for Christ will find it (Philippians 1:21; Matthew 10:39).
Dear Lord, we desire to put You first in our lives, above everything and everyone else. Forgive us for the times when our minds waver and deliberate the worth of following You, especially when things are not going well for us because of keeping the faith. We know You have given us Your all when You willingly laid down Your life on the cross to save us, and You deserve our all. We would not ask for anything else in return for our ‘invested’ time or the time we spend with You, for better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere. Grant us strength and a willing heart to bear up and carry our own cross, for You alone are our worth and our salvation.