“I have too much to lose to follow Christ.”
The philosophy of Christ’s teachings are universally approved. His sermon on the mountain could be incorporated into any belief system. It’s one thing to accept Christ’s teachings, it’s quite to another to receive His life.
Surrendering self sparks fear. It seems there is too much to lose.
The cost of faith can cause a man to tremble, especially if you are an official of the most powerful government in the world.
“Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” (Acts 24:24-25)
Felix was intrigued. He wanted to know more. He interviewed an apostle of Christ named Paul, who was recently arrested for causing a riot. He wanted to know his thoughts on what it means to be right with God, how can you exercise self-control, and what will be God’s judgment. Perhaps part of Paul’s answer can be found in his letter to the Romans. While in prison, Paul may have contemplated words the Holy Spirit provided in this momentous discussion.
How did Felix respond to Paul’s words? He was afraid.
Fear is a natural reflex common to people.
Fear of heights. Fear of spiders. Fear of change. Fear of death. Fear of speaking in front of a group of people.
Fear of faith.
I remember exchanging emails with a man who called himself Timothy. He was a Mormon living in Indiana. He was intrigued with the messages found on our website (tilm.org). At first curious about learning the biblical teachings on righteousness, self-control, and judgment, the emails eventually took a different twist. They started to become defensive of his Mormon faith and his LDS Church.
I will never forget his last email.
“My bishop told me to stop writing to you.”
It is the truth and power of God’s Word that brings a person to receive God’s promises and believe they are true. Truth is typically not the cause of rejection. It’s fear.
Receptive hearts hear and seem to begin understanding the gospel message one week, then dramatically change the next. Sometimes it’s the fear of family disapproval that causes the change. The culture surrounding a belief system are like cords that keeps a person bound to tradition and family heritage. Fear acknowledges the heartbreak of rejection. Fear weighs the cost and makes the decision to return Christ’s robe of righteousness back on the shelf.
Sometimes weeks, months, even years of careful instruction and prayer, I can’t help to wipe a tear from my eye whenever I watch a soul walk away from Christ and to the safety of earthly comfort.
Felix publicly acknowledged the cost of following Christ. He was afraid. He would lose his dreams, ambitions, perhaps even his wife he believed in the risen Christ.
A cause for rejection. A reason for many to even withhold the gospel message.
Fear, not faith, answers the question, “What would man think of me?”