WFW: No Turning Back
Mark 10:28-31 "Then Peter began to say unto him, 'Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.' And Jesus answered and said, 'Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.'"
The context of this passage was the story of the rich, young ruler. Remember, when Jesus told him to sell all that he had and give to the poor, the man loved his riches too much and walked the other way. So Jesus is saying here that you could have all these things -- houses, brothers, sisters, etc. -- but persecution would accompany them if one follows Christ: "All those who desire to live godly in Christ will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). Notice that it says, "WILL suffer"; it doesn't say, "might" or "could," but "WILL." It's a guarantee. In this story, the rich ruler didn't want to go that far; he would rather keep all of his possessions and follow Christ with no problems, so he went the other way. He placed his possessions on a higher level than God, and he missed out on eternal life. Jesus said that eternal life was the end result if we give up everything to follow Him. Remember, the rich man's question had been, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" If he really wanted to know, he would have whole-heartedly put his hand to the plow once Jesus gave him the answer. Luke 9:62 states, "But Jesus said to him, 'No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'"
Sometimes, I think many Christians have no concept of what that means. But the persecuted around the world know what this means. Every day, they are faced with the decision to follow Christ or to conform to the pressure. Should they give up their secrets? Should they deny Christ? Would it have been better for them if they had never become Christians in the first place? Maybe then, they could get a decent job... Maybe then, the torturing would stop... Maybe then, they could see their family again... Maybe then, they could be set free. These are all examples of looking back. But these Christians choose to keep their eyes on Christ, to "set [their] mind[s] on things above, not on things on the earth. For [they] died and [their] life is hidden with Christ and God." They put Christ before their desires. There is a practically no difference between looking back and actually going back; for if we look back the temptation becomes so strong that without Christ, we will go back. The persecuted have Christ's strength and this is why they don't go back. In Hebrews 11, the chapter which speaks of all the "greats" of the faith, it states this about Moses (vs. 26): "...Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward." This is how the persecuted view life; the reproach of Christ is greater than all the riches in the world, because in the end, they will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Moses chose to suffer with his brethren rather than possess all the treasures of Egypt; he followed Christ, casting aside his former prestige -- he didn't look back. The rich young ruler could have done the same; he could have chosen to give up his riches and followed Christ, never looking back, but he did not -- in fact, he COULD NOT. In a sense, he was not a ruler, for he let riches RULE him, instead of ruling the riches -- "To heck with these riches! I'm following Christ!" When something rules us, it binds us; and this is what the riches did for this ruler. However, it was HIS CHOICE! He could have chosen to follow Christ, but he chose to go the other way. It is evident that the ruler had good intentions to follow Christ, but he did not take his stand on those intentions. He had two choices: God or riches, and he chose the riches.
Even in the free-world, Christians must make choices to stand up for what we believe in -- a teacher who is told not to speak about creation to her students, not even comparitively or off school time; a college professor who is warned that the school does not support his stand for Christianity in their secular university; a child who is forbidden to hand out candy with an accompanying Christian card; a graduate who is told not to mention God in her speech. (And these are REAL examples, too!) Each time a Christian is faced with such a challenge, he must decide -- what is he going to do. Is he going to follow Christ, or walk the other way? Is he going to let the world dictate what he will do or will he follow Christ? The American world screams, "Separation of church and state!" But what is really happening is a separation of God from state, from the nation. We've even come to the point where we blame God for everything; but if we don't believe in God, and hence, we want to "cleanse" our society of Him, then why blame Him; by that logic, He doesn't exist, so He technically cannot be blamed. Today, people don't even know who the Founding Fathers are; and if they do, they are called a bunch of selfish men who were looking out for their own interests when they mentioned religion and drafted our founding documents (because "religion" means Christianity and that excludes other religions, so they say)! So, are we going to stand idly by and do nothing while everything that we stand for is stripped away from us? "Oh, no! You can't mention Jesus in your speech! That's unConstitutional!" "You can't pray in school! That's spreading religious propaganda!" "You can't discipline your children (while we do it for you)! That teaches kids how to be aggressive!" C'mon! Are we going to let the world dictate what we can and cannot do, because it might hurt someone's feelings, it is separation of church and state, it is not Constitutional (by their definition) or some other crap? The Bible says, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." It also clarifies that anyone who makes himself a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of Christ (Romans 12:2; James 4:4). As Peter said, "We must obey God, rather than men." We must do God's will. What is God calling us to do in each situation? We must find out, and do it regardless of what the world wants us to do. The persecuted Christians all over the world continue to preach the Gospel, regardless of the Communist wipeout of Christianity; they don't stand idly by, because they want to be pleasing to God, to be a friend of God. If we are really convinced that "He who has begun a good work in us will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ," why aren't we taking a stand? How can that good work be completed in us if we won't stand up for the truth? God is calling each person to do something for Him. Sometimes, it's not as important as being a teacher and speaking the truth regardless of the consequences; it may be as simple as reaching out to people, bringing them to Christ. But whatever the Lord is calling you to do, do it and never look back. Don't let the world scare you into submission; follow God. There is SO much to be done for eternity; don't waste time looking back. It doesn't matter what he, she, or it is doing; it only matters what YOU are doing for God. Do your part! Our eyes should be set on Jesus; He has laid out a road map to salvation, and it's up to us to follow it. If we are doing nothing, we are not moving; and inevitably, we are not following Christ. When a GPS says to go this way, and you go the other way, the GPS will let you know that you're heading the wrong way. Likewise, when we follow Christ, if we go the wrong way, God will let us know that we are not following Him. At that point, it is up to us what we will do; will we keep going the wrong way or will we follow Christ? Don't let distractions keep you from entering into eternal life like the rich young ruler did; he wasn't willing to take up his cross and follow Christ. Luke 9:23-25 states, "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?" The rich, young ruler gained all of his possessions, but he lost his soul. Hebrews 10:38-39 says, "'Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.' But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul." I will end with the lyrics of a famous hymn:
I have decided to follow Jesus (3x)
No turning back (2x)
Though none go with me
Still I will follow(3x)
No turning back (2x)
The world behind me
The cross before me(3x)
No turning back (2x)"