"A man in Christ
He arose and forsook all and followed Him,
Kindly affectioned with brotherly love,
Fervent in spirit serving the Lord,
Rejoicing in hope,
Patient in tribulation,
Instant in prayer,
Communicating to the necessity of the saints,
In honour preferring one another,
Apart from faith in Christ,
There is no explanation for such a life."
Simple words that display such depth of feeling most of us will never understand what this means. There is no clearer way to say it than how the epitaph's author did. Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation for such a life. No other answer makes sense and leaves us able to comprehend such a life.
I will give you the same warning Jesus gave. Following Him is not easy. Forsaking all is never an easy road. Carrying across is never fun. And before you emotionally walk down the aisle carried away in the enthusiasm of the moment, Jesus calls us to count the true cost of what it really means to follow Him.
The call to follow Jesus is a call to live a life so recklessly attached to Jesus, so irrationally surrendered, that our lives are unexplicable. To be so wildly in love with Jesus that we will follow Him, in hard times, in danger, is a concept so irrational that there is no explanation for it apart from faith in Christ.
I thought and prayed about this last week, and I honestly came to the conclusion this is my goal for my life. My desire, the aim I fight to strength and promote in my own life, is to live a life that cannot be explained apart from a relentless attachment to my Father, unconditional following of His will, and an irrational faith in Jesus Christ. That desire is a desire that surrenders everything, every dream, every ambition, every plan, every desire to the will of my Father.
I'm crying as I write this because of what this means. This is surrender. Teens, I want you to get this. Please, please, listen to me! The Jesus we claim to follow does not ask for weekend Christians. He doesn't ask for your leftover time or what's left of your life after you've done what you wanted.
What Jesus asks of you is that you follow Him. Our world is full of teens making goals, goals to become millionaires, to drive a Jaguar, to get that big house, to be a CEO. When we follow Jesus, our goal becomes to lose our lives in Him. Is that a wasted life? People will tell you so. People will tell you that following Jesus radically is crazy.
Follow Him from afar. Follow Him on Sunday. Follow Him after work hours. Follow Him on the weekends. There's little opposition there. There's little persecution to fair weather followers. No one minds if you're a Christian only when it's convenient. Your family won't argue with you if you want to be a mild Christian. Grandparents won't give funny looks and friends won't crack jokes.
But... if you want to be a radical, if you want to live a life with no explanation, there will be opposition. There will be a cross. There will be a cost. This isn't a cute motivational technique from Jesus; this is a grim warning that it will not be easy.
"More than that, I count all things to be loss in in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish..." Rubbish. A CEO position? Rubbish. A fortune? Rubbish. A painless life? Rubbish. Peaceful life, living your dreams? Rubbish.
That, my dear reader, is a life with no explanation. A life that counts all things as rubbish that I might gain Christ. A life that holds Christ to truly immeasurable worth. A life that holds Jesus Christ as more dear than all else, family, love, dreams, plans, hopes. A life with no explanation is one that dies in Christ.
Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation for such a life. That is the result of a life that's lived with no reserves, no retreats, and no regrets for Jesus Christ. That is the result of a life laid down, surrendered to the service of God, whatever the test, whatever the cost.
Count all things to be loss. That is a life with no explanation. That is what we're called to. To serve, to love, to share with such reckless passion that there is no explanation. To follow Jesus so radically, so irrationally that there is no explanation.
Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation for such a life. I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish, that I may gain Christ.