This past Sunday was Graduate Recognition Sunday. In my sermon I taught about the cost of discipleship and how difficult it can be to faithfully follow Jesus. From Matthew 16:24 Jesus tells us that true disciples deny themselves, pick up their crosses, and follow after Jesus. That is much easier to type on a computer screen than actually put into practice. However the question remains, is Jesus worth it? Is he worth giving up the rights to my own life? Is he worth following even if it costs me everything? It is a great question.
My mind imediatly goes to Matthew 10:39: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” By denying ourselves and giving up our lives for Christ, we begin to find true fulfillment not in this world, but in God himself. As we follow Christ on the narrow, difficult way to life, we abandon our lives and in the process find true life in Christ.
We follow Christ then because he is our greatest pleasure and greatest joy! Rather than finding our joy in the pleasures of the world, we find them in Christ! The pleasures of the world are garbage and rubbish compared to what is found in Jesus. The psalms ring with crescendoed praise of finding joy and fulfillment in Christ:
- "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart" - Ps 37:4
- "As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" - Ps 42:1-2
- "My soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is not water" - Ps 63:1
- "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!" - Ps 34:8
- "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Ps 119:103)
- "In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Ps 16:11)
So then, we follow Christ, because we know that in him the panting of our souls finds its rest in Christ. He is the living water. He is the pleasure that never fades and the source of our joy and satisfaction! All the pleasures of this world are temporary, pursue Christ , and worship him as a living sacrifice, giving up your life for the cause of Christ.
The reason we so passionately pursue God and deny ourselves, is because it is the proper response to radical grace. Radical grace leads to radical sacrifice. You see God came down to earth in the person of Jesus. Jesus lived perfectly and went to the cross. He was crucified for you and for me, so that the penalty of our sin might be paid for. Through Jesus we are redeemed and given eternal life! The radical grace of what God has done for us through Jesus compells us to respond with radical sacrifice. Following Christ means losing our lives for His sake, just as he gave up his life for our sake.
Is Jesus worth the cost? Is he worth laying down the rights to your own life? Is he worth the suffering and hardship you might endure? I can say with total confidence from both scripture and personal experience, absolutely, yes.
You can listen to the whole sermon here