This week, on Resurrection Sunday (Hallelujah!) our guest post comes from Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. Bethany, a dear sister in Christ manages the UK headquarters of Back To Jerusalem. Back to Jerusalem is the mission of the Chinese church to evangelize the unreached peoples from eastern provinces of China, westwards towards Jerusalem. The vision was birthed among the Chinese in the 1920s. The organization partners with the church of China to not only evangelize the religiously oppressed areas of Asia, but to also train and send Chinese missionaries into the unreached regions of the globe, including Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu nations. I have been privileged to become acquainted with Bethany in the last few months on DingDash, here is more about Bethany in her own words:
“I run the BTJ office here in the UK. I first became a part of BTJ after visiting China and spending time with believers who were part of the underground church. It completely changed my life. From that time on, I chose to use my life to serve them in any way I could, in their vision to evangelise the most unreached nations in the world. It’s the most incredible thing when we look back and see how God so perfectly ordered our steps.“
Risking All For Him
“To risk all with Jesus is to end all risk.”
Charles H. Spurgeon
And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
I remember first seeing that quote about a month ago in a book I was reading. Each chapter started with a quote, which generally set the tone for the chapter which followed. This time though, I couldn’t seem to get past the opening quote.
Here’s the thing – it’s a nice quote. It sounds good. It’s by Spurgeon, (so it must be true… right?). It’s a great opening to a chapter in a Christian book. But I was struck by the weight of what that quote truly meant, and what that mentality might actually look like played out in my life.
When Jesus called the disciples, it’s easy for me to forget that these were real people with real lives. They were not simply characters within a story, but had individual lives, commitments and responsibilities. All of that changed once they were called by Jesus. At the end of Luke 9, Jesus calls two disciples with one command – “Follow me.” (verse 59) One replied “Lord, first let me go and bury my Father” (verse 59). Another said “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” (verse 61).
Both times, Jesus answers their natural fear, rationale and anxieties with an eternal perspective: that only those things we do for Him and His Kingdom have eternal importance. And though this is true, I can’t help but notice that their requests were not only legitimate, but admirable. Their first thought was to take care of their family before they left everything behind to follow a man who called them as he was walking by. There are things in our lives – good things even – that gradually begin to take priority over our relationship with Christ and the life He calls us to live.
Is that to say that God is asking us to be separated from our families, leave our homes and quit our jobs? No… not necessarily. But in light of Jesus’ response, I have to ask myself if there is anything I hold so close, that it comes before Christ in my life.
Like those disciples, how often do we say “but first…” when God asks us to follow His voice? How many excuses do we try and come up with before we are obedient? The truth is that though walking with Jesus requires total and complete obedience to His ways, risk does not really exist when we are in the centre of His perfect will.
Will my natural mind convince me that my choices lack common sense? Yes. Will my feelings tell me that my decisions are not safe? Yes. Should any of that matter? No.
Our natural perspective will always conflict with what our spirit desperately desires: to daily live out the will of God for our lives and fulfil the call He has placed upon each of us. When I look at heroes of the faith who have literally changed the world for the Kingdom of God, it is impossible for me to deny that their lives were full of risk. Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, Jackie Pullinger, Brother Andrew, and those who, today, are following the voice of God into the most unreached nations of the world to do things that we may never hear of this side of eternity.
If you want to live a life that avoids risk, stay away from the mission field. If you want to live a life that avoids risk, never share your faith with another person again. If you want to live a life that avoids risk, do everything you can to protect your own reputation. And God will allow you to make those choices.
But – if you dare for a second to let go of everything that you find security in besides Christ so that He becomes your only foundation, there is a freedom that cannot be found anywhere else, in the knowledge that to risk all with Jesus, is truly to end all risk.