By Jason Soroski, Crosswalk.com
When you think of success, what do you think of? Everyone wants to be successful, but what is the true definition of success? Does it have to do with money, accolades, job titles, or it is something else? The Bible promises that when we choose to follow Christ we will have a full, rewarding, and abundant life. But God never promises to make us rich. In fact, he may well do the opposite. Following Jesus may bring us to make decisions that others would consider crazy, and lead us away from fortune and glory instead of towards it.
So what is the advantage to following Christ?
Lost and Found
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. –
This appears to be a classic oxymoron: how can losing something be the same as finding it? If I have a dollar and then lose it, how in the world does this make me better off?
The answer is in where we place our value. As the Holy Spirit works in our hearts, we will see the things we want and need begin to change. When our focus turns away from ourselves and toward the things of God, we find that the peace we have been looking for is not in what we can acquire, but in him. When we stop chasing after the things we think will bring joy and peace, we can allow him to give us that things that truly do.
Peace and Prosperity
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. –
When we are at peace we don't have to be afraid. So why does Jesus tell the disciples not to be afraid when he gives them peace? It is because his peace will not look like the peace the world offers, which is temporary, fragile and can quickly change based on circumstances. The peace he offers may bring a share of pain and uncertainty, but it is unchanging, long-term, eternal and perfect.
Nowhere in the Scripture are we given any indication that becoming a follower of Christ will make our lives easy or make us wealthy. We often hear that following Christ will bring peace and security, and we can somehow follow that logic to mean that we will be financially and personally secure when following Jesus. We can take it to mean that we will have all that American life has to offer - when we want it and how we want it.
But if this is always the case, then why did the apostles live out their lives as wanted men, persecuted by the religious leaders of Israel, imprisoned and even sentenced to death by the Roman authorities? The answer has to be that there is something beyond earthly comfort and success that was driving them. There is something better, greater, and more meaningful that pushed them to lead lives that seemed bizarre to the outside observer.
Leaving Everything Behind
Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” –
Following Christ may lead you to places you would have never chosen to go. This was certainly the case for the earliest disciples, and it remains true today. For those who followed Jesus during his ministry on earth, it was just a fact – following him meant leaving behind things that used to matter.
Jesus was born in the humblest of situations; in a stable made for cattle, not people. He was placed not in the finest of cribs but in a feeding trough. He lived in the wilderness for 40 days and nights. When he was staying in Jerusalem he spent the night outdoors on the Mount of Olives, or at Mary and Martha's house in Bethany. He occasionally stayed at the home of Peter's mother-in-law.
Jesus does not set for us an example of wealth and comfort, but an example of fully relying on God for our every need, and trusting that his way will bring us the peace that we can't find anywhere else. Following Jesus may or may not lead us to find success as the world defines it. But it will certainly bring us peace, hope, joy, and security that is greater and more meaningful than our circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. –
Jason Soroski is a homeschool dad and author of A Journey to Bethlehem: Inspiring Thoughts for Christmas and Hope for the New Year. He serves as worship pastor at Calvary Longmont in Colorado and spends his weekends exploring the Rocky Mountains with his family. Connect on Twitter, Instagram, or at JasonSoroski.net.
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