Before you and I will take the necessary risks to say “Yes, Lord, no matter what,” we must have a firm belief and trust in God’s way. We must embrace the conviction that what God desires for us will always result in our highest good.
I’m convinced that the reason we often “play it safe” is because we don’t really believe that any pain, failure, or abandonment will really work out for our highest good. Secondly, we fear losing something we believe is needed for our personal happiness and the happiness of our families.
It’s certainly not biblical to seek suffering for the sake of suffering, but we must have awareness that there will be trouble and difficulty in following Christ. We must also be deeply convinced that everything really will be “okay” or else we will never step out in faith despite fear.
The faith walk is often learning to be content when there is mystery surrounding what God is doing. It is possible to live like this when we trust His heart and sovereign purposes.
I believe the greatest limitation of the conquering march of Jesus Christ today is not secularism, materialism, commercialism, Atheism, or Islam. I believe it’s Christians who know they have their seat in heaven, but play it safe because they don’t want to take seriously the radical claims of Jesus Christ upon our lives.
We must ask ourselves this: What do I say I believe and how does that compare with what my actions reveal about my beliefs?
Do I believe the Bible when it says…
- I am an alien on earth (1 Peter 2:11)?
- My true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20)?
- Christ’s love is better than life (Psalm 63:3)?
- I possess the power to be His witness (Acts 1:8)?
- God sends me on a mission that requires me to go public with Jesus and the gospel (Matthew 28:19; Romans 10:17)?
If we really believe these biblical truths, they have great implications on our lives. They lead us to live like all we have belongs to God. They cause use to center our lives on using our gifts to bring people to God. They drive us to say “yes” to God no matter the consequences.
Living these things out is done solely by our deep belief in God’s perfect love.
I desperately desire to have a heart like Georgy Slesarev—one of my heroes and a model for what it looks like to passionately follow the Jesus we see in Scripture.
Georgy was a Russian Christian and gifted musician. Each day, He got up and went to work with a driving desire to be God’s witness in a dangerous culture. For nine years, Slesarev was the lead violinist for the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra in Moscow. On January 21, 1935, the secret police arrested him and charged him with crimes against the state. He was accused of actively witnessing to others about his faith in Jesus and was sentenced to five years of hard labor in Temir-Tau, Kazakhstan. After he had served almost three years, his wife and daughter were allowed to visit. The day before Slesarev was to see his precious family, the prison warden offered him an incredible opportunity to return home with his family and assume his old job in the orchestra. The only stipulation was that he promise to never witness of his faith or associate with Christians again. This was something Georgy could not do.
The next day he briefly visited his wife and daughter, but he could not bring himself to tell them of the offer or of his heart-wrenching refusal. Soon after, he was transferred to a work group doing hard manual labor. His hands that had once masterfully played the violin were broken and swollen to the point of never making music again.
In March 1938, Slesarev was convicted of witnessing to fellow inmates about his faith in Jesus and sentenced to be executed by firing squad. Shortly before his death, Slesarev shared these words with a Christian friend in the camp:
“My dear brother, don’t grieve. Christ has become so close to me. He is closer that He has ever been. My flesh is weak, my body is tired, but this is just a temporary moment in the time of eternity that is soon to open up to me. They have stopped me from playing the violin, but my dear, dear friend, you know, you understand, that they cannot stop the music that plays inside my heart.”
Georgy Slesarev could have lived as a secret Christian doing what he loved and being “politically correct,” but he didn’t. Georgy Slesarev risked it all for Jesus.
Many of us are guilty of coming up with excuses to play it safe. We often stay silent about Jesus because we believe we need to leave the gospel to the professionals who have attended seminary. Since I have never attended seminary myself, I take much encouragement from the lives of Peter and John who were called “unschooled, ordinary men” (Acts 4:13).
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” -Acts 4:13
Peter and John broke down the walls of the Jewish faith and religious leaders of their day. According to today’s thinking, they could have remained silent. They could have deflected to others who seemed more educated and talented, but they deeply believed that Jesus was the answer to all they would ever need. The religious leaders imprisoned them and told them to keep quiet about Jesus, but they didn’t.
Georgy Slesarev and these “unschooled, ordinary men” give us a clear picture of courage.
I believe God is searching for men and women who are gripped in His grace, willing to return to our radical roots, and have the courage to identify with Jesus in any and every situation. I believe God will use them to call us to live under the authority of Jesus and for the purposes of Jesus.
Are we willing to be these courageous people? Do we really value God’s way more than the ways of the world? Are we acting in a way that proclaims the Name of Jesus regardless of what it may cost us?
My dear friends, let us encourage one another to follow Jesus, no matter what.