We, the guys, watched The A-Team this weekend, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It was an awesome time of simply hanging out and enjoying an action film. However, in the middle of the movie I was taken off-guard by the strength of a line. Truth often strikes us when we aren’t expecting it, but when it does, we walk away awakened and provoked. The statement, “I’m here, because the truth is worth the risk.”, stood out as no other line in the movie. It stirred me to think more about “Why am I here?”, “What is truth?”, and “What am I risking?”
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”1
Jesus isn’t afraid of plainly stating his demands. He calls his followers to radical devotion; a devotion so strong they must give up their own lives.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”2
A devotion so strong it makes their love of family look like hate.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”3
A devotion so strong they must weigh the cost and renounce everything.
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”4
This doesn’t sound at all like good news to me. It scares me. It worries me, and like the disciples I must ask “Who then can be saved?”, and Jesus confidently responds “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”5 Now, let’s talk about the word saved. I believe everything I’ve said thus far is profoundly relevant to salvation, but it goes deeper than–dare I say–simply salvation. Jesus does not save us with a fire insurance mentality. He brings us into the kingdom of heaven in order that we might also bring others into the kingdom of heaven. He wants us to bring restoration, redemption, comfort, healing, in a word–love, to a broken world.
This kingdom came when Christ rose from the dead on the third day, but it didn’t stop there. This kingdom continues to come, and Christ says we will continue to advance the kingdom. He gave us authority,14 power,15 and said we will prevail.16 However, none of this is possible without first giving up everything. The great paradox of Christianity that we must first give up our lives in order that we may gain them. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” 17
And I want to end with a focus on this verse. Mark and Luke both record it as “save” and Matthew says “find”. I suggest that both are equally valuable. We save our lives, by the grace of God, by believing in Christ and his sacrifice. We also find our lives by coming to our maker and allowing him to bestow our identity upon us. He has a calling and destiny for our lives and wants us to come to him that we may be all we can be.18 He wants us to come to him, lay down our lives, so that we may pick up our true identity and live influentially in the world.19 It is when we begin to walk in an understanding of who we are that we become powerful; we become dangerous; we become alive. He saved us so that we will come alive and reign with him in the kingdom of heaven here on earth.
Once we fully understand we have died with Christ, we no longer have anything to lose, and it’s then we can become fully alive. Much like Maximus in Gladiator. He has lost everything and, fully confident in his identity, is now able to fulfill his destiny.
Albeit, this example isn’t perfect, but it beautifully illustrates the power of a person fully confident in their identity, especially when they have nothing to lose. We can experience the same power in our walk with God if we come to him and ask him to help us give up our lives in order to grow more deeply in relationship with him. We can then bring the kingdom to earth by being “God with skin on” as it is said here at G42. As we continue to grow, we learn the power of Jim Elliot’s quote “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” If you want to hear more about a radical life with Christ listen to the sermon below and the rest of the radical series from David Platt.
- Luke 9:57-62 ESV ↩
- Luke 9:23-25 ESV ↩
- Luke 14:26-27 ESV ↩
- Luke 14:28-33 ESV ↩
- Matthew 19:25-26 ESV ↩
- Matthew 3:2; 4:17 ESV ↩
- And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. Matthew 4:23 ESV ↩
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3 ESV
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10, ESV ↩
- “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 ESV ↩
- “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 ESV ↩
- And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Matthew 10:7 ESV ↩
- Matthew 13:24ff, Matthew 13:31ff, Matthew 13:33ff, Matthew 13:44ff, Matthew 13:45ff, Matthew 13:47ff, Matthew 18:23ff, Matthew 20:1ff, Matthew 22:2ff, Matthew 25:1ff ↩
- “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:28 ESV ↩
- And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 ESV ↩
- “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:12-14 ESV ↩
- “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 ESV ↩
- Mark 8:35 ESV ↩
- For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV ↩
- We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 ESV ↩