Todays readings.. 1 Kings 8, Jeremiah 34, Mark 8
What a challenge it is for young people growing up today in Australia and similar prosperous countries (but how do you measure prosperity?) to be bold in making it known that they believe in Jesus, except doing so among the circle of their fellow believers and friends!
Even more than this, not only to declare they believe he existed 2,000 years ago, but to show how his teaching changed the way a great number of people thought and acted. In fact, his teaching, despite opposition, turned the beliefs of the ancient world upside down!
Now in achieving this it caused many traumatic moments that tested the faith and the convictions of those converted and cost some their lives. Let’s compare this with today. The opposite conviction is flooding the world, especially that part of the world that considers itself intelligent and well informed. Those who openly declare their belief in Jesus face increasing ridicule and this makes the challenging words of Jesus we read today in Mark Ch. 8 very relevant.
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him (or her) will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” [v.38] How challenging were Jesus’ words both to the disciples and the crowd, “If anyone would come after me; let him (or her) deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man (or woman) to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” [v.34-36]
Most people today (in Australia at least) think this life is their only life. They try to “save” this life as much as they can! But those who follow Jesus “deny” themselves by turning away from the unessential things that fill the minds of those who want nothing to do with believing in Jesus. Jesus said, there are two gates, two pathways and one of them has never been more evident – and “the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter it are many.” [Matt.7 v.13]
Those who enter by the narrow gate must strengthen themselves with daily reading of God’s word and resultant meditation on life’s true realities – for only this leads to eternal life.