By Carol Round – “And His name shall be the hope of all the world”–Matthew 12:21 (TLB).
How many times have you heard television news anchors excitedly announce, “The whole world is talking about…” And then, they mention the name of a famous personality.
The news might be about a music idol, a TV reality star, a pro sports figure, or a well-known Hollywood actor. Sometimes the news is good; other times it’s associated with the negative choices made by a celebrity.
When I hear those words, “The whole world wants to know or is talking about…(fill in the blank),” I ask myself, “Really?” That assumes everyone is sitting on the edge of their seats to hear the latest news about these celebrities. I don’t know about you, but I don’t fit into the description of “the whole world.”
Who is the Whole World?
Confession: Before surrendering my life to Christ, I put my favorite entertainers on a pedestal. As my relationship with Jesus has grown, I realize those celebrities are like the golden calf the Israelites built while lost in the wilderness.
In Matthew 16:21-28, Jesus explains to His disciples what must happen to Him before He meets His death. Peter, the bold one, rebukes Jesus, who in turn, accuses Peter of being a stumbling block and of being more concerned with the world than with Godly things.
Turning to His disciples, Jesus adds, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
Denying Ourselves for Him
Jesus gives us a choice. Give up our lives for Him or forfeit our souls by following the world’s ways. However, when we choose to follow Jesus, we’ll be misunderstood.
In John 15:19, Jesus says, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
When we choose to take up the cross, people won’t understand where our hope comes from. They won’t understand the choices we make—why we choose to forsake following the crowd but instead choose to follow in the footsteps of a carpenter from Nazareth who walked this earth over 2,000 years ago.
We Have a Choice
Evangelist Billy Graham put it this way: “When we come to Christ, we’re no longer the most important person in the world to us; Christ is. Instead of living only for ourselves, we have a higher goal: to live for Jesus.”
It’s not easy to live for Jesus. He never said it would be. It’s a daily dying to self. In Romans 14:8, the Apostle Paul writes “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”
As followers of Christ, we should be dedicated to serving Him. Our purpose in life reaches beyond this earthly one and our lives should reflect our commitment to Him and not to this world. As for me, “Take this world and give me Jesus.”