Tuesday, October 2, 2007

To Die For

I recently heard a message from another pastor who was preaching on the life of Daniel. He was speaking of how Daniel never compromised his faith in God, even when it meant trouble. He stood strong in the face of adversity and held on to the Truth, which eventually delivered him.

One of the comments out of that message struck me. He said “When we cave, in following Christ, nobody respects it. Those who don’t follow God have no respect for us, and those who do follow God have no respect for us either. So we might as well go ahead and do the right thing.”

Have you ever thought about that? Did you realize how spineless we look to others when we don’t stick to the beliefs that we hold? When we do the right thing, it is respected by everyone. When we do the wrong things, everyone else sees how small we are.

I believe this is the reason so many will follow those who stand up for what they believe in, regardless of the outcome. If you line up the great people of history, you will find that most of them stood their ground when others just conformed. Christopher Columbus, Galileo, Susan B. Anthony, and Rosa Parks all changed the world when they stood their ground.

In the book Made to Count, by Bob Reccord and Randy Singer, the story is told about a meeting of youth and student ministers who were brainstorming about college evangelism and how to reach the next generation. Popular youth speaker Louie Giglio was present, but very quiet. He didn’t laugh when jokes were made about getting fired if they tried some of the “cutting edge” stuff. Finally, someone nudged Louie by asking what he thought it would take to reach the next generation. His response was incredible. He said, “We’ve talked about some ideas that we like, but then we’ve jokingly said that we didn’t like them enough to die for them. My read of the next generation is that they are looking for precisely that-something important enough to die for-and they’re willing to follow someone who will put their life on the line for that cause.”

I think Louie Giglio is exactly right except for one thing. I believe what he said is for all people, not just the next generation. People are looking for answers, people are looking for a leader, and people are looking for that one person who will stand for Christ no matter what.

Peter thought he could stand with Christ through whatever happened. In Matthew 26:34-36, just before the soldiers took Jesus away to be crucified; Christ had told his disciples that they would all stumble before the night was over. However, Peter said “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.

If you read the rest of the story, you know Peter denied Jesus, and the rest of the disciples also fled. They were willing to follow Him when He was performing miracles and teaching, but when things got rough, they were nowhere to be found. Of course, they all realized their mistakes, were forgiven and all but one of them eventually died for their faith.

You may not be called upon to actually die for your faith, but sooner or later, you will find yourself in a situation where your faith will be tested. Will you pass the test? Will you plant your feet firmly on the Rock and fix your eyes upon Christ and say “Come what may, I will serve the Lord!” or will you cave to the temptation to water down your faith or even deny it? Remember that God gave everything for you. Can you give Him any less?

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 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. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39)

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