Following Jesus, Regardless of the Consequences
A few weeks ago I was sitting in on a meeting where the speaker asked the attendees if they would admit they were followers of Jesus if the authorities asked them in a country where such individuals are imprisoned… or worse. As the question was being asked, I knew the severity of the question. And I absolutely knew what I had to do. I raised my hand.
I quickly realized I was one of the very few who raised their hands to the question. In a room of hundreds of believers. I cannot say I was particularly surprised. However, I was saddened. Saddened for Jesus. Saddened for His people. I knew how important the answer to that question was. Though it seemed so minor. So easy to bypass as unimportant. So easy to simply ignore. I knew the truth.
I was thankful I raised my hand. However, I could not compare my simple and inconsequential gesture with the countless men and women of God throughout history and in our current day that have chosen to stand by Our King at all costs, regardless of the consequences. My mind wandered to the countless stories I have read of such individuals who have given their entire lives for the sake of the Gospel. Who have declared their love for Jesus even if it cost them everything. While I was bold enough to raise my hand, all I could do at that moment was to pray silently, “Lord, please make sure I never deny You, regardless of the situation I am in.”
In that moment, I also remembered when Peter denied Jesus. It was so simple to do. So seemingly insignificant. So easy to feel that no one would never know. That no consequences would occur. In Luke 22:33, Peter boldly claims that he would lay his life down for Jesus’s sake. In reply, Jesus stated, “…the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me” (Luke 22:34).
Upon Jesus’s arrest and questioning, Peter had followed and was waiting nearby. In the Gospel of Luke, while Peter was sitting down, a servant girl saw Peter and said, “This man also was with Him.” In response, Peter stated, “Woman, I do not know him” (Luke 22:56). Shortly after, another individual saw him and stated, “You also are one of them.” Again, Peter replied, “Man, I am not.” After about an hour, another person approached Peter, “Certainly, this man also was with Him, for he too is a Galilean.” Peter’s response: “Man, I do not know what you are talking about” (Luke 22:54-62). Subsequently, the rooster crowed.
In the above passage, one can see how easy it was for Peter to deny Christ. Without much thought needed. In fact, imagine being in a conversation with someone you know is not a believer. Someone who actually abhors Christians, for whatever reason. Let us say that this person is a potential employer you are interviewing with and that you researched the individual beforehand and found countless articles in their name declaring their atheist beliefs and their hatred for Your Savior. Say that you decided to interview anyway, as you really wanted this position, and your interview went wonderfully. Now, you are both walking to the elevator and the individual brings up their atheist beliefs. Jokingly, the person asks you, “You’re not a Christian, are you?” You realize the tone of the voice is not so positive. You flashback to the great interview you just had. And you have a sense that this answer may change the prospects of you actually obtaining this position. What would be your reply? Yes? Or no? I declare the answers are drastically different. So seemingly unimportant. Yet, so significant.
The night of the day I was asked if I would admit I was a follower of Christ regardless of the consequences, I had a very interesting and powerful dream. This dream, in essence, confirmed what I innately knew.
In the dream, I was standing. And the devil himself was standing in front of me. He was skipping in his place. He asked me to skip with him. It was implied that if I skipped with him, I would be denying Jesus and following him. I did not skip. End of dream.
So seemingly inconsequential. So easy to ignore. Yet, so significant. Upon receiving this dream, I realized just how easy it is to deny Jesus, with a simple act or word that would seem as though it has no consequences. “Just skip with me.” In addition, I realized just how important it is to never swerve from the narrow way. No matter what. To always follow Jesus. No matter what. To never deny Jesus. No matter what. Regardless of the consequences. No matter what.
A while back, after Just a few months of being a Christian, I had decided to move cross-country to attend a church. I realized it may sound bizarre to the world. But I knew I needed to. And my mind was set. As a result of my decision, one of my parents was very concerned. Consequently, this parent of mine, whom I love dearly, sent a psychiatrist to my apartment to evaluate me. If the psychiatrist gauged that I was, indeed, seeming to have a psychiatric breakdown in accordance to the world’s standards, it was understood that I would be admitted into a hospital.
With love and overwhelming kindness, I opened the door, welcomed the two evaluators in, and accepted to speak with them. In our conversation, I was asked if I was a Christian. “Yes! I am,” I declared, very happily and proudly. The interviewer continued, “and your parent told us that you believe you can heal people?” Loaded question. So easy to bypass. Yet, so significant.
In response, I agreed that the statement is true and, in essence, explained that in Christianity, followers of Jesus believe God can heal people through His children, and how the Bible states that Christians can heal, as Jesus did.
Having had a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, I knew that there was an exception in every clinical evaluation due to cultural, tribal, and religious beliefs. I knew this was such a case.
Both evaluators smiled and softened. I sensed that one of them, the one observing, was a Christian as well. And I also sensed that she was thankful that I was open with my way of life.
And that was it. They gathered that I was not clinically diagnosable, was “just” a lover of Jesus, and that they simply had a worried parent on their hands.
Looking back, while I did answer each of their answers honestly, I wish I was bolder. Clearer. More detailed. It would have been so much more interesting if I followed up my “yes” with, “do one of you have any injuries or illnesses?” I could have prayed for them right then and there. I could have opened my Bible and showed them all of the verses and passages about healing and how Jesus still heals through us today. I could have taken the opportunity to minister to them and have God save their souls… Perhaps I could have even told them my entire testimony, stood on my dining table, boldly declared my love for Jesus with my arms flailing in the air, and exclaimed how He is coming back again! Well, at least it was good practice and a good opportunity to learn from and grow in boldness and courage.
In closing, and with all seriousness, I do want to stress just how massively important it is to never deny Our Jesus. Our Precious and Beautiful Jesus. Though it may seem as though there will be no consequences. That no one would ever know. That nothing will ever happen due to it. Do not be fooled. Do not skip. Such a casual gesture. So seemingly unimportant. Yet, it is so significant.
*Details have been changed to protect privacy.