Luke 9:23-25 – “And He (Jesus) was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, this is the one who will save it. 25 For what good does it do a person if he gains the whole world, but loses or forfeits himself?”
I’ll never forget the words of Kyle Idleman who said, ‘What you win people with is what you win them to.’ Living in a consumer culture, we tend to forget that people long for something more than religious entertainment. And praise God, it’s becoming more and more obvious that ‘self-help’ is an oxymoron.
When you look at the polling results of why Christians are leaving the church in America today, you see there is a growing dissatisfaction with a simple exchange of ‘religious goods and services.’ People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. In the areas of the world where there’s a real sacrifice required with following Jesus, Christianity is growing. In the areas where there is no real Christian persecution, Christianity is shrinking.
When we read Jesus’ words in Luke 9, we are reminded that Jesus was continually raising the bar of expectations because He was going to be offering His Spirit to reside within each of us. Robert Coleman writes in The Master Plan of Evangelism, ‘[Jesus’] concern was not with programs to reach multitudes, but with men whom the multitudes would follow.’ If people imitated you, would the culture be better for it?
The church in America needs fewer consumers looking for a quick fix, an emotional high, and fun for their kids while handing off discipleship and evangelism to the ‘trained professionals.’ Our faith says, Christ lives in YOU. It’s easy to point out problems, however, we become a part of the solution when we humbly look at our own shortcomings and how we need Christ to help us grow.