Vietnamese Christians worshiping (photo from Voice of the Martyrs)
From the May 10, 2018 Standing Strong Through the Storm devotion at: http://www.opendoorsusa.org
One of the costs of following Jesus is the impact on our children. Our children need to understand that there will not be a victorious life in Christ without following the footsteps to the cross. Not around the cross, as we often desire, but through the cross.
A co-worker once asked a Christian in Vietnam how he introduces the gospel in the villages where people have never heard about God. Without hesitating he answered “Oh very easily. I simply say, ‘I have good news for you but it might cost you your life; would you like me to continue?’ People want to hear good news and most of the time they eagerly ask me to tell them. But the introduction is always that there will be a cost involved because for us in Vietnam, being a Christian means a life of self-denial. When they are persecuted and imprisoned they are not surprised. They expect it.”
The co-worker went on to say, “It sometimes amazes me how we find it suitable to counsel our children regarding the costs involved in buying a new bicycle or starting a new hobby but we never sit down and discuss the cost of following Jesus. We need to train our children in no uncertain terms that being ridiculed at school, being rejected and facing mockery, is part and parcel of being a Christian. It comes in as a package and you cannot have the one without the other. We need to train our children to sacrifice; we need to train our children to count the cost; we need to train our children that they do not belong to themselves.
“Our lives are often based on our expectations. If we are confronted with the unexpected, we seldom know how to react. If we neglect to teach and expose our children to the reality of the cross, difficulties will come as a surprise.
“But, once again, if we as parents cannot testify through our lives by being examples of living sacrifices, our teachings will be futile. When was the last time you were ridiculed for the name of Jesus? When was the last time you sacrificed your time and money to work among the lost?”
Luke 9:57-60 — As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:22-26 — (Jesus said), “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
Acts 21:10-14 — After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”
Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits thou hast given me,
for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me.
O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,
may I know thee more clearly,
love thee more dearly,
and follow thee more nearly, day by day. Amen.
–St. Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)