In the classic hymn “I have decided to follow Jesus” we proudly proclaim a line, that I believe some praisers aren’t fully prepared to act on. We boast it strongly, but we don’t actually live it. What is this line?
“The cross before me, the world behind me. The cross before me, the world behind me. The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back. No turning back.”
Do we realize what the cross is? Ultimately, the cross is unconditional love, but it is also brutal sacrifice. It is persecution. It is selflessness. It is pain. It is struggle. It is faith the size of the mustard seed. It is the path our Savior traversed. It is temptation. It is the consequence our sin. It is chaos.
I know we are told that Christianity is not the easy path, but are we actually willing to walk it, to bear our crosses, to be persecuted and tortured? Many of us are blessed to live in a world where we feel safe. This is a huge overlooked blessing, because many live in a world where safety doesn’t even exist. It’s easy to say that we will carry our crosses and follow Him in world where we aren’t threatened. But what will happen when our world becomes full of chaos, threatening hatred and fear?
Side-note: If you want a perspective-fix, read about the effect of ISIS on Christianity – Defying ISIS by Johnnie Moore is a book that really got me thinking and praying. It’s not healthy to dwell in fear of what could be, but it is important to have knowledge of what is happening, and prayerfully combat it. I think now is the time for us to start understanding the magnitude of the power of prayer. Praying for a change of heart of ISIS leaders as well as strength of heart for our persecuted brothers and sisters will make a difference. God is good. God is light. God is peace.
The world behind is full of simple pleasures. Beautiful distractions such as TV and movies, candy, sex, safety, quests for happiness, money, conditional love, etc. All of these are not necessarily bad and many of them join us on our journey towards the cross, but they become the problem when they become the focus, the need. Will we turn back to the world for comfort, when the cross is looming and fear is impending?
Will we be willing to walk towards the cross when our brothers and sisters are being brutally murdered? Will we continue to walk towards the cross when we personally are being torn limb for limb? It surely doesn’t sound appetizing, but as Christians I think we need to prayerfully prepare ourselves for this, especially in this ever darkening world.
Decide is a verb, an action. To come to a resolution in the mind as a result of consideration. To make a choice from a number of alternatives.
Today, deciding to follow Jesus is a day-to-day work in progress. Each day I decide to struggle through temptations, and hopefully say no to it, but not always. Each day I decide to read my Bible. Each day I decide what I will watch on Netflix – will it be God-honoring, or self-honoring? Each day I decide to live in hope or despair. Each day I decide to follow Jesus, or to selfishly turn back. Each day I decide.
The fruit of our decisions usually aren’t instantly gratifying – lucky are the days they are! Many are the days I fail and fall, but it doesn’t stop me from getting up and trying again the next day. Each day, whether fruit or failure, may the prayer of my heart always be: The one moment when it truly counts, I pray, dear God, please help me to choose You. May I decide to follow Jesus. May I bravely walk on the water, towards Your outstretched arms. No turning back. No turning back.