While we were on a trip somewhere in North Georgia, we were searching through the radio stations trying to find something good when we came across a call-in show hosted by a local pastor. My curiosity was fully engaged! I was eager to hear what kind of questions would be asked, and what answers would be given. The very first caller did not let me down.
He asked, “What is the bare minimum required for me to get into heaven?”
A pause on a radio show seems much longer than it really is. This one seemed like ten minutes, but it was only a few seconds in reality.
The pastor politely, but firmly, responded, “Son, you have to surrender everything to Jesus if you want to go to heaven. Everything.”
Apparently, this answer did not meet the callers needs, and he thought that maybe the pastor didn’t understand. So, he restated his question: “No, Pastor. I just want to know what is the minimum I gotta do to go to heaven.”
There was no pause this time. “Son,” the pastor said, “You can’t do anything to earn your way into heaven. But when Jesus calls you, you must respond by giving up everything in your old life to be re-created by Him. Everything. It’s all. Or it’s not at all.”
Jesus Makes This Clear
Read Luke 9:18-27 and pay careful attention to the context.
After Jesus fed the 5,000 men, he asked his disciples who do the people say that he is. Some said that he was John the Baptist, others said that he was Elijah. But Peter announced that Jesus was the Messiah of God, to which Jesus strictly charged him not to tell anyone because he must die and be resurrected on the third day. Then Jesus turned to all who were present and said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
If anyone wants to be Jesus’ disciple…
- One must deny self. This is not just a willingness to surrender worldly possessions or conveniences, but a desire to eradicate the old identity called “self” and allow Jesus to give us a new identity in him. By taking on his identity, we grow to imitate him in the we act, in the way we speak, in the way we think.
- Take up one’s cross daily. The cross was the Roman method of execution borrowed from the Greeks and Persians, but the Romans had “perfected” it into a brutal, torturous, slow death-machine, reserved for the most heinous criminals and insurrectionists. The implication is that one who want to be a disciple of Jesus must be willing to suffer and died for him, if necessary.
- Follow me. We must be willing to be transformed into the new creature God desires for us. We must allow Him to change us. Completely. Radically. We must be willing to go wherever He sends us. Share the Gospel to whoever he assigns us to. To faithfully obey his commands without hesitation or delay.
Whoever is more interested in his own safety or comfort will end up losing it all. But whoever surrenders everything, including his whole life, will truly find it.
The gospel of Christ is incomplete without counting the cost of discipleship and totally surrendering to the will of the Father. Instead of asking, “What is the bare minimum I gotta do to go to heaven?”, we must ask, “Have I fully denied myself? Am I ready to suffer and die for Jesus? Am I willing to follow him to whomever and wherever he sends me?”