Read first: Matthew 5:15-16 // Matthew 19:16-30 // 2 Corinthians 3:18
Think of a time when you made a big change in your lifestyle. Maybe it was a forced change, or maybe on your own volition.
When Nick I got married a few years ago, I expected some major lifestyle changes: I knew that Nick likes to keep his habitat a crisp 64 degrees in the winter (felt like 46). I was used to living in a home that felt cozy—more in the 72-74 degree range. Our first winter together was… cold. Another that comes to mind is when I moved to college. Growing up, I had always enjoyed cooking for myself—but was so fortunate to have a full stock of produce and other staples magically restocked on Sunday afternoons. When I got to college, I learned the hard way that eating well and eating often gets a lot harder when your mom isn’t doing the shopping.
As Christians, our choice to follow Christ triggers the biggest and most challenging lifestyle changes we’ve ever experienced. As we read in Matthew, Jesus makes it very clear that if you want to gain eternal life, you must give it all up, and follow Him. All of it. After all, those who lose their lives for Jesus will find Him. Thankfully, because we have a gracious, gentle, and purposeful God, all of this change doesn’t happen at once. As we grow in our faith and our hearts begin to look more and more like Jesus, our short-comings are revealed to us, and we’re prompted to make a change.
In each of our lives, there are certainly possessions you might be clinging to too tightly, separating you from eternal life in Christ, but I didn’t bring up this story to spark conviction. I bring it up as a helpful teaching in our efforts to lead others to Jesus.
Our sojourn on this Earth has great purpose: to GO and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Heaven is going to be amazing—that much is clear. God rejoices knowing that you will be there with Him. But His heart breaks for the millions of His kids whose paths aren’t quite lining up towards heaven.
The passages we read today and our brief brainstorming sessions together are shared to serve as reminders. Remember what it was like when you first chose to follow Christ. If you’re anything like me, you have probably spent years growing roots in a certain direction, building up a certain foundation, and settling into certain habits that don’t glorify God. Choosing to follow Christ means giving it all up—and instead choosing Jesus time and time again. When we share the gospel with people in our lives, we must remember what it felt like the hour we first believed. Remember the joy and the rush of realizing your redemption and freedom all at once. Remember too the challenges that followed; the discomfort you felt as God gently lead you away from your life of sin.
Whatever your journey of “selling it all” to follow Christ has looked like—please remember it today. Use that experience as a powerful tool when you try to communicate the message of Jesus to whoever is on your heart.
Empathize with them when they can’t seem to shake an old habit of the past. You were there once too. Show them grace when they don’t seem to enjoy church or Bible reading as much as you do. Offer a helping hand when digging up deep deep roots of their old life seems impossible.
With certain people in your life, you have the privilege of explaining our great sojourn and turning their gaze upward. You join arms with God the Father as He leads His children home. Show them that the roots dig up easier when our eyes are fixed on the final destination. Fear begins to fall, and hardened Earth softens. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 11, follow me as I follow Christ. Let them see your walk with the Lord; how you live and how you love. Show them how to follow Christ and how to walk in the grace we’ve been given. With our eternal destination in mind and our arms stretched wide, tell all that you can of the good news of Christ, and bring as many with you as you possibly can.