A. and M. A. | Serving in Bangladesh
Jesus said in Luke 14:26,27, 33, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. … In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
Jesus clearly mentioned three costs of following him: we must hate our families and ourselves (14:26), we must carry our own cross (14:27), and we must give up all our possessions (14:33).
If we truly want to follow Jesus Christ, we must consider the cost and put him above everything else. We know that salvation is absolutely free, but it costs us our very life. Sometimes some preachers talk about receiving all blessings if we belong to Christ. Our life will be full of joy, everything will be provided by God since God is Jehovah Jireh. He will protect us from all our enemies since he is our protector, he will heal us from all our diseases because he is the healer. All that is true. Nothing is wrong. God has promised us to be our protector, provider, and healer. But this is only one part of the coin. This is namely prosperity gospel. But this is not all the true picture of Christianity. Where there is no cross, there will never be a resurrection. Christ without cross has no meaning in Christianity.
Jesus is not forcing anyone to follow him. This is a personal choice. In Luke 14:26 Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me…” There is no obligation to follow him. But he is reminding us of the cost of following him. He said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” He further said, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Following Jesus means giving up everything.
In the country where we live, it is mostly impossible to live a life without pain after being Christian. Almost everyone who has accepted Christ and wants to follow Jesus must carry their own cross every day. Let me share a true, brief story of our ministry.
Fatima heard the gospel from Mafuza. She understood that only Jesus can offer her eternal life. She decided to follow Christ and took a public testimony of baptism. In the photo above, Mafuza is giving her the public testimony of baptism. There is no pond or river in this area. Therefore, Mafuza is pouring a bucket of tubewell water. Five other family members also decided to do the same. Mafuza gave everyone a bible so that they can read and grow in faith. After somedays following Jesus, another member of her family noticed that she is no more praying to Allah and does not follow Islamic rituals. They came to know that she became a follower of Christ. Physical torture was started by her family member. They stopped even giving food. But Fatima stood firm in the faith. She said, “Christianity is not very easy to practice. I have accepted Christ and cannot leave him. If God wills, my family will remain or else it will break up. I cannot stay at my house anymore. I must leave my home and need to go to Dhaka for my personal security. Pray that God would give me patience”. The persecution became so extreme that Fatima had to leave her husband, house, family, possessions, and job. I got the news that all the bibles that we offered them were taken away by her family member along with blankets that we gave her family. I do not know how long this situation will remain.
Questions for personal reflection:
How do you feel about Fatima’s faith in Christ? If you are in the same situation what would be your response? How would you handle the situation? Would you compromise or leave everything for following Christ?
Rev. A. A.