The Cost of Following Jesus
By: Kristen L. McNulty
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As promised, this year for our Impact Devotionals, from time to time we're going to be taking a look at what it means to be an extension of God's hand here on earth.
Today as part of that, we're going to take a look at the cost of following Jesus.
I think we're pretty much all aware of the fact that God wants to use us in some way, shape, or form, but I think that it is easy to forget that often there is a cost involved.
We see this over and over again in Jesus' own life. In order to do the will of God, Jesus left what He knew to publicly minister. When He did this, even though He was the Son of God, things did not go smoothly. In fact, Jesus was often criticized for what He did. From His family members to His friends to even the so-called religious leaders of the day, Jesus was criticized. His family wanted to take Him home (Mark 3). The religious leaders continually criticized Him and even accused Him of being possessed by the devil. The crowds tried to kill Him and many members of the public were outraged by both His teachings and His behavior. Jesus was not a very popular man.
And I hate to break it to you, but by following Him you and I are going to be led down the same road.
I know this isn't a popular idea. We all like to be liked and love to be loved, but sometimes in order to do what God wants of us, we have to pay the price and face both criticism and opposition.
In the book of John, Jesus said: "Anyone who wishes to be my disciple must pick up their cross and follow me." Notice that Jesus didn't say anyone who wishes to be my disciple may want to pick up their cross. He didn't leave us that option. Christianity is not a comfortable existence. Following Jesus doesn't mean that we're going to be popular. Yes, there are benefits to following Christ, but there are also costs. Today I want to ask you if you are willing to pay the cost? Are you willing to make the hard choices and abandon both your image and your popularity?
These are not easy questions, but they are necessary ones. God has a plan for each and every one of us and often in order to carry out our ministries, we are going to be criticized. I know that I often thought this was a bad thing, but lately my perspective was changed when my sister said to me "Kristen, if you never faced any opposition, then that would lead me to believe that you're not doing what you are supposed to be doing. If you are not criticized then Satan has no problems with what you are doing and that is not a compliment."
Talk about a wake-up call. Lately I have been facing a lot of criticism for what I'm doing and let me tell you- it can be hard to take and it does hurt. When you work hard and pour yourself into something, only to receive criticism and to be looked down upon, it hurts. But I've come to realize that that doesn't mean I should stop doing what I'm doing, but rather pursue it because Satan is shaking in his boots and he will do whatever it takes to try and stop me.
The truth is, when you're following God, people aren't going to approve. They are going to look down at you, and even some fellow believers will. Now let me clarify, there is a difference between accountability and criticism. We are all accountable for our actions to God and God will never ask us to do something that goes against what His Word says or something that will lead us into sin. Criticism occurs when we are Biblically following what God wants of us, yet we still receive opposition.
What it all comes down to is that there is a cost to following Jesus and if we want to follow Him, we must be willing to pay that cost. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it sometimes hurts. But I can promise you from experience that it is worth the cost. When we stand before God, we won't be answering to our critics, but rather our biggest fan who will be so pleased with what we've accomplished in the face of opposition. And when we hear the words "well done, good and faithful servant" any price we my have paid here will look silly in comparison to the rewards that await us in eternity.
This devotional was aired as a part of the Making A Difference Christian Radio Show.