September 16, 2019
The guest chapel speaker this past week was a chaplain from the United States Army. Before he spoke, a video of the events of September 11, 2001 was shown. As he began his presentation, he pointed out the fact that only a handful of seniors present in chapel were even born when the attack on New York’s World Trade center occurred. I remember vividly where I was on that September morning 18 years ago, and most of those reading this message remember also. The point of his message to our students was not just about the bravery and selflessness of the first responders on that day, and the hundreds, and even thousands who have responded to serve our country across the world since that day, many of whom have given their lives for the cause of freedom. His message was about how as Christians we are first responders to those who are lost in their sin without hope unless we as first responders tell them of Jesus who gave His life for them. He also talked about how Christian teenagers who by taking a stand for Christ can face possible ridicule and scorn from their classmates, and even at a Christian school it may separate the casual Christians from those who really want to follow Christ. He also reminded our students of the fact that many of the students at a Christian school may take the freedom to pray and profess Jesus openly on our campus and in our classrooms for granted, just like so many felt safe in buildings prior to the 9/11 attack. And just like the first responders at the World Trade Center, who were going up the stairs to rescue people while everyone else was evacuating the buildings as quickly as they could, they might pay a price for being a first responder for Jesus. He pointed out the fact that no matter where a student goes to school, even a Christian school, the decision to follow Christ and be a first responder for Him, no matter what the cost, almost certainly will have a high cost.
In Luke 9, time was growing urgent for Jesus as he knew the time with his followers was growing short. Luke talks about the cost of following Jesus. In a conversation with several men Jesus said to them, “Follow me.” Two of the men expressed an interest in following him but told Jesus that there was something important they had to finish first. Jesus pointed out that he didn’t even have a place to sleep, and that those who followed him would have to give up personal comforts. In Luke 9:62 Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Those of us here at FCS made a commitment to Christ at some time in our life to serve him with our lives in the ministry of Christian education. Many Christians have significant commitments at their local church to serve the Lord in a specific way, using the gifts God has given them. “Looking back” for us is when we begin to second guess our commitment. The enemy can use many things to make us question our commitment; finances, time, pressure, discouragement, and more. The lesson for us is to stay the course and focus on why we made the commitment in the first place, to serve our Lord as a first responder. We must focus on Him alone.
Luke 14:27 “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” I believe this doesn’t necessarily refer to some hardship in life. The cross for Jesus was not just a heavy object he had to carry down the road to Golgotha. For Jesus the cross was the instrument used to kill him. For us, bearing our own cross means to pick up the instrument of death and die to self. If I am dead to self, then my wants and wishes no longer matter. When I am dead to myself I am no longer self centered. I’ve died to everything and now Jesus can operate as Lord in my life.
Following Jesus as a first responder, no matter what the cost, is different for every one of us. For many people around the world it may mean risking their reputation or popularity, or even their personal safety to demonstrate their faith. Here at FCS, each of us need to continually evaluate whether anything in our life is replacing Jesus as first priority. There is a cost of serving Christ and we are called to consider seriously our decision to follow Jesus every day. To choose to not follow Him wholeheartedly is to choose not to follow at all. To choose to take up our cross means putting Him first. The choice is ours, and our choice to faithfully serve Him each day here at our school, just like those first responders on 9/11 who bravely went into danger to save the lives of people who were in danger.
God bless the first responders in our country in law enforcement, as fire fighters, paramedics, and all of our military men and women. May we as Christ followers show the same dedication and fervency in our response to people who need Jesus