“For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life? What can a man give in exchange for his life? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:36-38
Yikes! What a statement from Jesus. The Message Translation puts it this way.
“If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.” Mark 8:36-38
Do you have any of those “fickle and unfocused” friends? Do you feel like you might fall into this category sometimes? This makes me ask myself a few tough questions. First, what kind of Christian example am I setting for my family and those around me? Is it a life of trying to fit in with the world and follow its lead or I am taking the narrow road that few take? Am I keeping my eyes on the latest cultural fads or the cross? Am I surrounding myself with enough deeply committed Christians to hold me accountable and build me up? Finally, am I living a life that glorifies God or myself?
I know that following Christ with wild abandon can come with persecution, judgment, and loneliness. And let’s be honest! It can be difficult to stick with Jesus when everyone and everything around us is moving in the opposite direction. So how do we ensure we stand firm and not falter? As Jesus explains in the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4), it is those who hear the word of God, but don’t nurture it in their hearts and continue to grow their relationship with God that will stumble “when pressure or persecution comes because of the word.” We need deep roots!
Just like plants with deep, healthy roots are more likely to survive severe heat, frost, and drought – as Christians, the deeper we are rooted in Christ and His Word the stronger and more prepared we will be to face challenges, disappointments, desert times, persecution and trials.
Another important point to consider is that what you see above ground (in your actions) is really determined by what’s hidden underground (in your heart)? The fruit we produce is much more desirable to God and others when our hearts are firmly rooted in Christ.
Through prayer and studying scripture, our roots grow deep and strong. Those deep roots provide the anchor needed to keep us firmly grounded.
We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Hebrews 6:19
They provide us with a lifeline to God and give us wisdom and strength beyond our comprehension.
Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
They also give us a deep faith and understanding of God’s truth and great love for us.
Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him. 1 John 3:1
May we all cultivate, nurture, fertilize and tend our hearts with the truth of God’s glorious Word. May we strive to grow deep roots of faith, hope, trust, and love so we never become fickle or unfocused in our walk with God. Amen