"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” –Luke 9:23
Much later, Dietrich Bonhoeffer reflected on these words from Jesus and wrote, “When God calls a man, He bids him to come and die.”
It often seems like all possible evils are thrown at the objects of God’s greatest love—man. In the face of tragedy and adversity, all that is needed for darkness to blot out light is for followers of Jesus to do and say nothing.
We, the Body of Christ, must confront this evil rather than remain silent. If we know the truth of Jesus Christ but never go public to battle evil, we must ask ourselves the hard question, “Why?”
It seems to me that the answer to that question could be that we don’t like the word “deny” in today’s scripture. Our perspective says, “I can have it all and have my seat in heaven. I earned it.” With this mindset, we are missing Christ’s call to deny ourselves and follow Him, ultimately disregarding our identity as salt and light on the earth (Matthew 5:13, 14).
I keep asking myself, “Have I lost my saltiness? Is that why I refuse to speak?”
Brothers and sisters, the hope of the world remains solely found in pointing people to the love of Christ. Our light must begin to shine brighter.
The call of the church today is to come out of our comforts with the world’s only hope—Jesus. We must go public with the Cross of Christ in our words and deeds in the face of possible rejection. Remember, we have the conquering power of Jesus Christ’s resurrection on our side.
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” –John 3:19-21
You and I are the “whoevers” mentioned in this Scripture. Because of this, we’re called to go public with Jesus somehow, somewhere … this week.
We get to pierce the darkness with His truth, trusting God that people will bow the knee of their hearts to say "yes” to Jesus. But to do so, we must come out of hiding. We must be willing to be mocked so that the hope of Christ can go on the offense once again.
We, the Church, can fulfill this call by “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3).
Together, we can pierce the darkness with the light of Christ. I bid you to come and die with me to follow Jesus. Yes, I bid you come and die with me so that others may see Jesus.
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John's travels for ministry behind the Iron Curtain led him to found East-West Ministries International in 1993. John and his wife, Susie, live in Dallas, Texas and have a grown daughter and two grandchildren.