The Christian lifestyle is foreign to most people, and that becomes increasingly true every day. There was a time where a church of some kind had a part in most people’s lives, but that’s just not the case anymore, and so the truths of religion and the kind of commitments we make just don’t make any sense to a lot of those people. They see Christians doing, not doing, saying, and not saying the kind of things they do without any understanding of why people would make those sacrifices.
The temptation is to make it as easy as possible for these people to call themselves Christians, but that’s the wrong choice. The truth is, the Christian life is about sacrifice. Jesus told people that they’d have to take up their crosses daily (Luke 9:23) and that they may have to turn their backs on family (Matthew 19:19) if they wanted to follow Him. For most people, that’s too much to ask.
So, in the lives we live, and in the example we’re setting, there’s one truth that we need to make clear if they are ever going to be convinced to become Christians:
It’s worth it.
It’s worth not sleeping in, going fishing, or catching some of the football games on Sundays. It’s worth giving up the kind of movies and tv shows that Christians shouldn’t watch. It’s worth the difficult battles with sin. It’s worth removing anything that stands between us and Christ. That’s exactly what Paul wrote, saying, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). What was his reason for giving all of those things up? Knowing Christ, gaining Christ, receiving His righteousness, knowing the power of His resurrection and suffering, and attaining to the resurrection of the dead. There’s just so much to be gained when we trade the world for Jesus, and so little to be lost. So how do we show them this trade is completely worth it?
First, we do it by the way we talk. Everybody’s heard the old phrase about saying we “get” to go to worship instead of saying we “have” to, and that’s true, but it goes so much deeper than that. We should never sound like children whose parents told them they can’t do something fun – “Well, I would skip church/go to the bar/watch that movie/look at that picture, but I’m not allowed to.” Instead, the renewed mind of the Christian views those things as worthless, completely unworthy of our attention. We don’t talk as though we’re missing out, but as though we have no need for those things to improve our lives. We talk as people whose joy is found in the things that really matter – loving God and loving people. Christians are the only people living life as it was truly meant to be lived, in step with our Creator and receiving the peace that He brings. If our attitudes betray that truth, and if our words reflect our attitudes, we’ll never convince people that the Christian life is worth it.
Second, we do it by the joy we show. Joyless Christians are the biggest detriment to the church’s outreach. We have something the world just doesn’t, and that’s the true source of joy. Sure, they can find things that make them happy from time to time, but as Solomon so wisely pointed out in Ecclesiastes, that’s all fleeting. All of that happiness is nothing in comparison with the constant, steady joy of knowing the Father and living in fellowship with His Son. We show this joy by delighting in the word (Psalm 1), delighting in serving others (see Jesus’ attitude in Philippians 2), and delighting in our relationship with God, showing them that the godly lifestyle bring us so much more happiness than the things they hold onto.
The other way we show joy is by leaning on God through all of life’s uncertain and difficult times. Without the anchor of faith, most people have no idea how to navigate the waves of life while maintaining a sense of peace and joy, but that’s what we receive when we know that God is in control. The world can’t understand that mindset, and so it’s of utmost importance that we help show them that faith is worth it in life’s darkest hours.
It’s no small task to convince people to give up the lives they live. Most people fear change, and so there’s really only one way to get them to do so: convince them it’s worth it. Let’s make sure our words and our lives are showing the world around us that whatever things they think are gain, we’ve counted as loss because Jesus is better.
By Jack Wilkie

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