Now, as I said, Genesis 24:58 is a great eye-opener. When we accept to go with Jesus, it is better we understand what we are walking into. Trouble!
(At weddings people are asked to make vows which involve words like, “I will be with you in joy and in sadness”. Unfortunately, many people do not honor that vow and they opt out at the first sign of ‘sadness’, and consequently divorce is considered an option even in church today!)
But when Christ calls us, He calls us to partake of His sufferings and death. When Jesus walked in this world, His disciples were always thinking in terms of worldly glory and worldly gain. We recall James and John sneaking in behind the other apostles to ask that very special favor from Jesus. We also recall Peter’s question to Jesus in Matthew 19:27: “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?”
Mark 10:29-30: “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”
Jesus’ answers to questions regarding God’s Kingdom, and His teachings in general, indicated that forsaking the world (in our spirits) and partaking of His sufferings and death (again, in the spirit) was the sole calling that He calls us to. We have been called to identify our lives with Jesus’, not only in His glory, but also in His sufferings for the Kingdom of God.
In Hebrews 11:9-10 the Bible talks about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the following manner: “By faith (Abraham) sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
These were people who suffered with Christ – and theirs was a far more literal suffering than ours. We are far more privileged. We can roam the world in personal jets and still go to heaven. These guys, the Bible says, lived in tents with smelly goats, cows and camels and they did not even think of building a permanent house to live in!
For anyone listening, that truly changes our perspective of our calling. We hardly have enough breathe left to cheer about money, cars, houses – or private jets.
We have been called to live an entirely different lifestyle. We have been called to a life of forgiving those who wrong us, to love people; to feel the very heartbeat of our brother or sister. It is impossible to live that kind of lifestyle while we are selfishly holding onto our lives or onto the world.
If you want someone to let go of something you hit him again and again (or you shake them) until they give in. That is what God in love does to us. He wants us to let go of the world; we therefore will need to suffer much in order for that to happen.
And that work in our lives – taking up our cross and following Jesus – is what we should be cheering about.