For the Sake of the Call:
“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34).
Have you heard the call of Jesus to come and follow Him? The call that Jesus made when He walked the Earth 2,000 years ago, He is still making today. Do you want to come after Him? If you do, Jesus says, you must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. When I heard the call of Jesus in August of 1989, I began to follow Jesus. “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. Though none go with me, still I will follow. The world behind me, the Cross before me. No turning back, no turning back.”
But what does it mean to follow Jesus? If you’ve ever read through the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, then you probably noticed something interesting. Jesus never called anyone and said, “Come and go to church.” No, the call of Jesus was to come and follow Him. Now don’t get me wrong here – I’m not saying we shouldn’t go to church. The Bible indeed encourages us in Hebrews 10:24-25 to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. What I’m saying is that being a Christian involves more than just going to church – it’s about following Him. It’s about abandoning it all, for the sake of the call. Consider the words to this song by Steven Curtis Chapman, describing the call of Jesus’ disciples:
- Nobody stood and applauded them, So they knew from the start, This road would not lead to fame
- All they really knew for sure was Jesus had called to them, He said “Come follow me” and they came
- With reckless abandon they came
- Empty nets lying there at the waters edge, Told a story that few could believe, And none could explain
- How some crazy fishermen agreed to go where Jesus led, With no thought for what they would gain
- For Jesus had called them by name and they answered
- We will abandon it all for the sake of the call, No other reason at all but the sake of the call
- Wholly devoted to live and to die, For the sake of the call
- Not for the sake of a creed or a cause, Not for a dream or a promise
- Simply because it is Jesus who calls, And if we believe we’ll obey, And we’ll answer….
Do you know what it means to follow Jesus? Here is the story of a man in the Bible who met Jesus, but wasn’t willing to abandon it all for the sake of the call.
“Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ” And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:17-23).
What’s the point of the story for us today? I don’t think that Jesus is saying that everyone needs to go and sell all that they have and give the money to the poor. But I do think that Jesus is calling us to do whatever it takes – to follow Him with all of our hearts. Are you wholly devoted to live and to die for the sake of the call? Deitrich Bonhoffer said once, “When Jesus calls a man, He bids Him come and die.” Are you willing to lay down your life for the sake of the call?
Pastor Chris Jordan