By Basilea Schlink
If we are intent upon leading the most comfortable life possible, we are acting contrary to Jesus' command that we should lose our lives and deny ourselves. Jesus says that He only recognizes as His disciples and followers those who follow this command (Luke 14: 26). Yes, if we are lazy and slack, if our longing for comfort and convenience prevents us from doing our work for Jesus well and we do not fight against it, these serious words of Scripture apply to us: "Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord with slackness" (Jer. 48: 10). Do we realize what it means to be cursed by God, whose whole heart yearns to bless? And do we see what judgment slackness and softness will bring us in eternity as well?
If we do not want to come under this curse, whose terrible consequences will be revealed in eternity, we have to renounce all softness, all laziness in our lives; we have to declare war on it. Jesus' cutting words, "Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14: 33) also applies to our work for Jesus. If we cannot give up our demands for comfort, for much free time and rest, for better pay, they will make it impossible for us to use our time and energy for Jesus. If a soldier were laden with many items for his personal comfort, he could never go to war. Nor can we ever become soldiers for Jesus Christ, or true disciples, if we do this. And quite aside from this, softness and laziness open the door to many other sins which really make us unfit for service.
So we have to let Jesus' words pierce our hearts, learn to abhor our softness and love of comfort and in faith renounce what would make us unfit to serve Jesus properly. That means, for instance, giving up our desire for special comforts, for the most beautiful home, for the best interior decorating and for the food that we especially enjoy. Keeping Jesus in mind, whom we want to follow, we must repent and take a new path, for example if we have let our family or others serve us more than necessary, or if we have avoided difficult work and in these ways have left the path of Jesus. Jesus tells us, "I am among you as one who serves" (Luke 22: 27). This shows us Jesus' true glory. Yet the "disciple is not above his teacher". The sign that we are really disciples of Jesus is that we renounce our softness, not legalistically, but out of love for Him. This love will draw us along His way of denial.
When we serve others, not asking for anything special or unnecessary, and not expecting any comfort, we are not only on Jesus' way, we are actually bound to Him. That is why, in spite of all the sacrifice, it is not a difficult way. It makes us one with Jesus who is pure love and tender care and at the same time the almighty Lord. What should we be afraid of? He cares for us in great love and fulfils His promise, "He who loses his life"-that is, who loses whatever he thinks he needs in life-"for my sake will find it" (Matt. 10: 39). By following Him, we receive everything we need through His blessing, loving care and almighty power. Yes, we find that the Father in heaven cares for His children and gives them an abundance of earthly goods for their nourishment, clothing and shelter.
Since Jesus left His life, should not we also be able to leave what makes life worthwhile for us? Scripture says that He had the power to lay down His life (John 10: 18). Yes, if we can give up our lives and our demands, we will have great power and authority.
Jesus wants to give this power to His own. It is the greatest power; it is greater than the power to work miracles. How do we get it? Through faith! Through faith the fortresses and strongholds of our hearts will fall, even the stronghold of wanting to keep our life with all its demands for comfort.
This battle of faith against softness is more important than ever before, because we are now approaching "hard times", times when we will be persecuted for His name's sake. Now we must conquer all softness and laziness in the power of Jesus' redemption, so that they will not be our downfall in the hour of temptation. It was not by chance that Peter changed from disciple to betrayer while he was warming himself by the fire.