Living Radically for Jesus
Rachel Saint lived a life that not many of us would envy. Born in 1914, Rachel gave up the opportunity to inherit a large fortune and live a life of luxury. Instead, she lived as a missionary to the Auca Indians, a dangerous and murderous tribe living in Ecuador. This same tribe had killed five missionaries just two years before, one of whom was Rachel’s brother, Nate. Boldly, Rachel went to demonstrate the forgiveness and love of Christ to them, and spent the rest of her life transforming their violent tribe into one that loved Jesus.
Not many of us would be excited about spending our life in straw huts with lots of bugs, and big snakes. But there is something about Rachel’s life that I think all of us want. She knew what life was really for, and lived it without holding anything back.
Hearing the story of Rachel caused me to think of myself and most average Christians. If I truly believe that the God who created the heavens and the earth gave up His life for me, why do I not also give my life completely to Him? Whether you consider yourself a Christian or not, has this thought ever crossed your mind? Doesn’t it seem odd that we who claim to be followers of Christ spend so much of our lives living for ourselves instead of the awesome, indescribable God who made and saved us?
Last summer I read a book called “Crazy Love,” by Francis Chan. In his book, he confronts the lukewarm way we average Christians live out our faith, and challenges us to live radically for God. In the time I have with you today, I hope to revolutionize your way of thinking with ideas that are based on his book. I want to take a brief look at the average Christian life and at an example of what a life lived for God can look like. I want to share with you a concept that has changed my life, and with God’s help, I want to change your life by showing you the importance and the joy of living a life completely surrendered to God.
We all tend to forget that our time here on earth is like a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow, and act as though we’re going to be here forever. Think about it. If you knew that this was the last year of your life, do you think you’d be living any differently? At any moment you could find yourself giving an account for your life. Will you receive a reward for being a faithful servant, obeying the commands of Jesus?
Jesus, the creator of the universe, came and lived a human life and suffered death on a cross to show His love for us. Out of His love He gave us eternal life with Him, something more valuable than everything we will ever possess. Every moment of our life should be spent serving Him out of extreme gratitude and a crazy love for Jesus. Yet what do our lives actually look like? Do we show love for Jesus through what we do, or would our reactions to His love be better described as half-focused, partially dedicated, and lukewarm.
Revelation 3:16 struck deep when I read it. As Jesus speaks to a church He says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither hot, nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But because you are lukewarm, I am about to spit you out of my mouth” . Jesus finds it disgusting when we who know the truth about God live apathetic lives for Him. When we stand before the throne, he will not give a reward to those who lived a life that was lukewarm. Because of this, it’s important for us to determine whether or not we are lukewarm. Though this is a standard that is different for everyone, I’m going to name a few qualities that can be signs of a lukewarm heart for Jesus. As I do, I’m going to ask you to take a deep, honest look at your own life as it is right now.
Lukewarm people go to church because its what’s expected, and they like the fellowship, but not because their heart hungers to know God more. They rarely if ever share their faith with friends or coworkers because they don’t want to make people uncomfortable or be rejected. They tend to compare their own acts of service to the acts of others, instead of only wanting to please Jesus. Lukewarm people may pray often, wanting to know God’s will, but when they make a decision they end up trying to conform God’s will to their own.
It was easy for me to write this description, because it is greatly based on myself. I’ve come to conclude that if we are lukewarm in our hearts, it’s because deep down, maybe farther than we’ve ever wanted to look, we don’t really love Jesus. This might sound like an extreme statement, but I think that if you’re open with yourself, you might agree with me.
Last summer, if you had asked me if I loved God, I would have said yes without hesitation! But when I was challenged to look deep in my heart, I realized that though I knew it was amazing what Jesus had done for me, and though I knew God really was incredible, I somehow had a hard time authentically loving God. I think you might feel the same way. You know God has been unbelievably good to you, but your relationship still feels distant, sometimes almost fake. And I wouldn’t expect anyone to live radically for Jesus who doesn’t have a real, genuine relationship with Him. The truth is, if you want to live a life that will be praised and rewarded in heaven, you won’t get it by simply trying harder to be a good Christian. You have to fall in love with Jesus.
Now, I’m not going to tell you all of the amazing facets of God, or try to prove to you why you should love God, because I know it doesn’t work that way. What I am going to tell you to do is spend time with God. Whether or not you speak with God often, He already knows exactly how you feel. Since last summer, I have simply asked God to help me love Him. The more time I spend with Him, the more I love Him, and I want to spend more time with Him, and end up loving Him even more. And the life that you live when you’re in love with Jesus is a greater life than any other.
Take for example, an old man who goes by the name of Rings. A former drug addict, alcoholic, and convict, Rings likes to say that if Jesus saved Him, Jesus can save anyone. He lives in his pick-up so that he can use all of his income to buy food, which he shares with all of his homeless friends, meanwhile telling them about the great love of Jesus. He won’t let something like a home or house payments get in the way of living for his Savior.
Now picture Rings after he passes away, as he stands before the throne of God. He won’t regret all those uncomfortable nights he spent in his car, or wish he’d spent his money on nicer clothes. But what a great reward he will receive, because he loved Jesus so much that he gave up the comforts of this world in order to store up treasure in heaven. Many people would call him foolish, but if you think about it, who really is the foolish one? The one who spends this life on temporary pleasures and having just enough Jesus to get by, or the one who gives up the excess things of this world in order to receive a treasure that will never perish, spoil, or fade. Like the words of Jim Elliot, one of the missionaries killed by the Auca Indians, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose."
Now, it’s your turn. Don’t wait another precious day. You may not know exactly what to do, but step out in faith and start really living for Jesus. Maybe that means sharing the gospel with a co-worker during lunch break, or stopping to talk to a homeless person on the corner. Maybe it will mean selling your house and giving away everything you own. Maybe it is simply taking that first step of believing in Jesus as your personal Savior and beginning your relationship with Him.
Remember Rachel Saint and Rings, two people who held nothing back and yet gained everything they really needed. Don’t waste your life! Please, don’t even go to your next web page without stopping in your life to consider what really matters, and what you are really going to do about it. We only have one life to live the best way possible. Jesus is calling you to something so much more than a life of temporary happiness. He’s calling you into a love relationship with Him forever. After you choose Jesus, it’s up to you to choose to stop living a life that is lukewarm, and to use your life in a way that will store up treasure that will last for eternity. So now, what will you do?
My persuasive speech from the 2009/2010 NCFCA Speech season.