Staying in Christ

The Cross of Sacrifice, Hooge Crater Cemetery, BelgiumA classmate of mine posted this on Facebook,

“Question for my Christian friends…Is sharing the Gospel more than you did last year on your list of New Year’s resolutions? If it isn’t, then why not?”

Sharing the Gospel will cause friction. Anyone who has ever tried to share it, whether to friend, family, or stranger, knows that sometimes it isn’t received well. In fact, despite what some prosperity preachers will tell you, living the Christian life isn’t supposed to be Easy Street. This was very evident in a confrontation where Jesus lost many of His followers. He was telling them that He was the Bread of Life. He also pointed out that none could be drawn to Him unless the Father did the calling. This was met with consternation and the comment, “This is a hard saying.” It was a hard saying. It still is.

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”  – John 6:66-69, ESV

Though many left, we know 12 remained. These Twelve formed Jesus’ inner circle, but lest we think that Jesus was fooled, even as early as this did Jesus name one of them as false (v. 70-71). However, the response given by Peter was simple, “We will stay with You. You are the only way to eternal life.” It’s one thing to say it and quite another to do it. One, Judas Iscariot, might have gone along with Peter, but he did not live up to the words. The other 11 did. For 10 of them, it meant execution and martyrdom. For John, it meant a life ended in exile, closing the chapter on Jesus’ apostles. In other words, staying with Jesus wasn’t easy. They gave their lives to do so.

As you begin this new year, think about what it means to you personally to “stay in Jesus.” Doing so may put you at odds with friends and family. Doing so may cause you to rethink certain beliefs, practices, and behaviors. Doing so may mean stepping out of your comfort zone in order to be obedient to His words. Is your desire to stay in Christ? Then understand the cost now. Prepare yourself for the sacrifices, for the trials, and for the hardships that may come your way. Understand that we each have a purpose in this life, and that purpose is to glorify God. We’re here for the Kingdom. We’re not here for our 401Ks, our bass boats, our timeshare on the beach, or even our big screen HDTV with the latest technology. We are here for Christ.

There is a huge upside to staying in Christ. To quote the words of Charles Spurgeon, remaining in Christ means a “double joy” or a “blessedness upon blessedness.” Pause on those words a moment. It’s a paradox: sacrificing for Christ leading to a “double joy.” However, if you’ve ever “stayed in Christ” on something, you likely know that it is very true. Let us stay in Christ. Let us put Him first in everything this year. And let us experience that “blessedness upon blessedness” that comes from doing so. May the Holy Spirit lead us to this state.


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