Coach Dave Daubenmire
September 18, 2008
Would you die for your faith? I’m serious, would you die for Jesus?
That is a pretty chilling thought I have to admit, but I think it says a lot about one’s commitment to Christ. Many say they would be willing to lay down their life, but I’m not sure they really mean it. Where the rubber meets the road and we are actually confronted with a life and death situation for our faith would we be found faithful…even unto death?
I hope I am never faced with that decision and I pray that I would be worthy of the test, but I don’t think any of us can really know until we are faced with the reality of that choice. Deny Jesus and live or confess Him and die. How would you respond?
Just this past weekend I took part in a prayer and fasting vigil with some strong Christian men and this topic seemed to somehow ooze to the surface. With all of the anti-Christian bigotry emanating from the culture today it does not seem too far off in the future where great persecution may come to the American-Christian. The criminalization of Christian thought, speech, and action does not seem to be too far out on the horizon and the men at the gathering began to discuss whether or not we would be up to the task.
In more specific terms the question was, what would you die for? Every man there felt that he would be willing to lay down his life for Jesus but admitted that the proof would be in the pudding. No one knows until faced with that decision.
As we sat around the flickering campfire I used a flashlight to locate a verse in my Bible that had troubled me for some time.
Luke 22:31-32 “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Whoa…..Peter, who had been one of the Lord’s closest disciples, was NOT CONVERTED. For three years he had been part of Jesus’ team, one of his confidants, a follower of the Lord, yet somehow Jesus knew that this loud mouthed blow-hard was more bark than bite.
You see, there is a difference between being a follower of Jesus and being a convert. It is my contention that today, just like in Jesus’ day; there are plenty of followers and very few converts.
Just what is a convert? To convert is “to change in character”, “To transform by conversion.” A follower is “a person who imitates, copies, or takes as a model or ideal.” After three years of watching Jesus, Peter was a follower. He admired Jesus, he imitated him, and he modeled his ideals, but Peter had never been converted. He had never been transformed to a point where there was a change in his character. He had never reached the point where he “loved not his life even unto death.” He had a head-change, but not a heart-change.
And Jesus saw right through him. He knew that Peter was going to be used mightily in the days ahead but that his level of “commitment” was not deep enough. Oh, Peter had “accepted Christ” as so many have done today, but he had never had a corresponding inner-change. As Peter was about to find out it is hard for the Lord to use someone who has not been deeply wounded.
But Peter didn’t understand. Jesus had just warned him that there was some trouble ahead but Peter responded “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.” As Paul Harvey would say, we know the rest of the story.
How about you? Are you a follower or a convert?
Early Sunday morning I began to study further what I felt the Spirit was showing me. “Okay Lord, if Peter wasn’t converted before the crucifixion when was he converted? He was one of the three disciples that you handpicked to pray with you in the garden. Even after you had warned him that he was about to be sifted you still invited him to the garden. You chastised him for sleeping while he should have been praying. He had promised you that he was ‘ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death’. But he clearly was not. Lord, when was Peter converted?”
If you follow the crucifixion story you will find that shortly after Jesus was arrested all the disciples deserted him. (Matt 26:56), Yet Peter, who was about to deny him, “followed him from afar” (58) to watch the action, sat outside the palace waiting for the verdict (69) where he proceeds to deny three times that he knew the Lord. Mathew 26 ends with these words, “And he went out and wept bitterly. In my opinion this represents the conversion of Peter.
Have you wept bitterly over your denial of the Lord? Are you brokenhearted over the calloused condition of your heart? Have you repented of your cold-heartedness towards the unrepentant sin masquerading as Christianity? Are you, as Paul alleged “ashamed of the Gospel? Do you deny Him before men?
As we sat around the campfire my friend Pastor Bill said, “You know, we are really all frauds. We all claim to love the Lord and claim to live by his standards, yet our actions speak volumes. Evil is running unopposed in our communities and we don’t lift a hand to fight it. We retreat inside our churches and hide from the Devil rather than taking our faith to the streets and confronting him. Let’s face it fellas, in so many ways we are no different than Peter.
“And when thou art converted...”
Are you a convert or a mere follower?
So there we sat around the campfire pondering the words that pastor Bill had just challenged us with. It is so easy to be a follower of Jesus….and so hard to be a convert.
What is the purpose of your Christianity? Was the purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection merely to purchase you a get-out-of-hell-free card? Did he suffer and die merely to give you a better life? If push comes to shove are you ready to lay down your life for Jesus? When He told us that greater love has no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends, was he referring only to HIS death and HIS friends?
End-time eschatology is all of the rage. Churches love to study the signs of the times and many are convinced that the imminent return of Jesus is at the door. It has caused a plaque of apathy in the church. To fight evil, is to fight against the Lord. God has it all under control. He has not appointed us unto wrath.
Failure to speak against sin is a denial of Jesus no less than the denial by Peter.
Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Ez.3:17
Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? Ps. 94:16.
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I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20
about you? Are you willing to be hated for Him? Are you ready to be
persecuted for Him?
Are you prepared to die for Him?
“And when you are converted…..”
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