Time to time I hear as part of a testimony how one has given up much to follow Christ.

I have heard people say things like,

  • I used to have everything
  • I used to keep a certain lifestyle
  • I was confident about myself
  • I was successful, powerful

I guess the point being made is that it was a sacrifice to follow Jesus Christ.

I don’t buy that.

The 2 main reasons why people let go of what they are holding on to are first, they found something better, and second, because they had no choice.

We do not willingly give up what is valuable to us for something less valuable.

No one does that.

When Jesus made invitations to Peter, Andrew, James & John to follow Him, it was not a stepping down proposition. They were uneducated fishers no one knew or cared about from a rural area, but here’s Jesus, the new up & coming Rabbi inviting them to be His disciples. It was once in a life time offer. Compared to prestige, opportunities & power that will follow, leaving their boats & nets was no sacrifice at all.

What about Matthew or Zacchaeus? Matthew leaving his profession of tax collector or Zacchaeus giving back the money he stole from people by overtaxing was not a sacrifice either. It was for better self-image. They didn’t like who they were. They followed Christ because they wanted life where they can feel better about themselves.

In Jesus Christ, these unsatisfied souls saw a new destiny.

Apostle Paul also confesses in Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” We do not detect even a hint of regret in his words because for Paul gaining Christ completely outweighed all the privileges, prestige & power of being a Pharisaical elite.

Indeed Paul’s statement challenges & inspires us, but we have to take into consideration that Philippians was written much later in Paul’s missionary career, which means that he had lived & experienced what he is professing. He knows for a fact that gaining Christ is far better than anything else in our world.

But in the beginning, when Paul was a young zealous Pharisee, Jesus had to help him see the truth he will proclaim later in his letter to the Philippians.

Acts 9 records what happened to Paul on his way to Damascus.

  • Paul comes face to face with glorified Christ.
  • Overwhelmed by Jesus’ glory, he is forced to the ground.
  • Although his physical eyes became blinded, the eyes of his soul were opened.
  • And now Paul had no choice but to follow his Savior.

If we had encountered Christ in the same way as Paul, we would also abandon our former way of life to embrace a far better life that Jesus offers! We will not be debating or weighing the pros & cons of following Jesus.

Weighing the pros & cons of following Christ can be seen throughout the Bible although it uses a different phraseology. The Bible uses the phrase “looking back” to convey this idea that we are debating whether to follow Christ or something else.

In our foolishness, we sometimes believe that something else other than Christ can offer us a better life, and that is when we start looking back.

Here are a couple of biblical examples.

First, there’s Lot’s wife. God told Lot & his family to flee from Sodom, but Genesis 19:26 tells us, “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” One may ask, “What is so bad about looking back?” Her looking back proved to be fatal because it revealed where her heart lied, even when Sodom was being destroyed. She longed for her former life back in Sodom more than life God extended because she couldn’t see how it will be better than what she had enjoyed so far.

In Exodus, we also see the Israelites constantly grumbling & longing for their life of slavery back in Egypt because they foolishly believed that bondage was better than freedom in the wilderness with the LORD. Therefore, they couldn’t fully commit to their God.

We do not willingly give up what we believe to be valuable for something less valuable, no matter how mistaken we may be.

C.S. Lewis explains how a child will not give up making mud pies for something better that his parents offers because he believes that making mud pies is the most fun activity there is.

The point is that when we follow Christ, it is always better. Don’t ever think we are getting the short end of the stick here in exchange for His glory.

I realize that following Christ is not easy, but it’s still unimaginably better! Living His Word will be challenging & it will test us, but still it is only His truth that brings freedom & life! When we make Jesus our only Lord, He will ask for more than we ever thought we could give, but what we will gain in Christ will outweigh anything that we lay down. Following Christ will undoubtedly humble our spirit, but it is only at the moment that God will show grace & lift us up.

When I entered seminary & ministry, I’m not going to say that it was easy, but I can say with all honesty that my life was better. Being in ministry compelled my wife & me to seek & walk with God more closely, to become more dependent on His promises, grow in our patience, and experienced joy that could come only from the Lord. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

I repeat the same conviction about our future endeavor in Taiwan. It is not a sacrifice. We are not giving up much. The reality is that it is a privilege that brings excitement to our hearts. It is an opportunity to be at the center of God’s will, which is to reach the unreached. There is no other place that we’d rather be.

We are humbled & grateful that God is allowing us to enter His harvest field.

We should not call what we are going through or laying down for Christ a sacrifice because our so called sacrifices are always tied to blessings that Jesus offers. We can’t get away from His blessings.

On the other hand, The Sacrifice that Jesus made on the altar of the cross brought Him only pain, humiliation & abandonment. What Christ has done was indeed true sacrifice because there was nothing that He could’ve gained that He didn’t already have, but Jesus still went through it because He loved us… because He wanted to save us.

What’s incomprehensible is that it wasn’t better for Jesus to enter our world, and He had a choice not to come, but He did.

The Son of God gave up His heavenly glory & majesty to save sinners, now that’s a sacrifice!