Read Mark 1:29-34
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:25 NLT)
When I was a youth pastor, I attempted to write a weekly devotion that was directed toward teenagers. I called it, “Xtreme Faith”, because it was edgy sounding and it reflected well the reality of what it means to be a Christian, a person of faith, in today’s times. It also drew a parallel to the ancient church and what it meant to be a Christian in those times as well.
I decided to spell it, Xtreme, because X is the Greek letter in the word χρηστος, which transliterates to the word Christos (pronounced kr-eest-os), which translates in to the word Christ. X was often used as the shorthand for Christ in ancient Christian circles. (Side note: The next time you see Xmas instead of Christmas, don’t get mad, but rejoice because it means the same thing). So, I spelled the word Xtreme, because it pointed to Christ and how extreme following Christ can be in this culture.
I am not sure how successful that short-lived devotion was; however, I believe the name of it, as well as the fundamental message that was being conveyed is vitally important for us as Christians in an increasing secular, and even anti-religious, American world. What’s more, even many professing Christians choose to only halfway follow Christ in ways that are neglectful of, if not antithetical to, the Christian faith we claim to profess.
We don’t like to think of him this way, but Jesus of Nazareth was a pretty extreme individual. He called people to give up their careers and social status to follow him (Mark 1:16-20; 2:14). He told people that they were not worthy of following him if they did not forsake all things, including their parents, siblings and family (Luke 14:26). Jesus told people that if they wanted to be his disciples, they should deny their own hopes, dreams, and aspirations. That they should pick up their instrument of capital punishment and follow Jesus to their deaths (Matthew 16:24). I could go one with a plethora of other examples; however, I think the above three prove the point. Jesus was extreme.
Peter knew this to be true. I love the account of Jesus coming to Simon Peter’s home in Mark, because it shows exactly what was at stake for Peter and the rest of the disciples. They weren’t two-dimensional characters from a story book; rather, they were real, living, breathing human beings. Peter had a wife, he probably had children, he had an ailing mother-in-law, and a household to look after. When he chose to leave his career behind to follow this itinerant teacher from Galilee, he was giving up the only source of money he had, and that would affect his WHOLE FAMILY!
If you are still struggling with the idea that Jesus was extreme, let me ask you this: would you leave your ailing family members, your spouse, your children, your homes, and your careers to follow Jesus into the great unknown? Would you be willing to leave behind your cars, your boats, your lifestyles, and your dreams and hopes for the future to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth?
It takes and Xtreme faith to do that, and that is the kind of faith that χρηστος is calling you to. It may not mean that you leave your family as Christ did, but it means that you need to be willing to go wherever Christ is calling you. It means that, no matter what you are called to and no matter how politically incorrect it may be nowadays, a Christian is always willing to bear witness to their faith, to uphold Christ’s two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:37-40) even if it means standing up against the status quo, and to strive to not let any part of your life become a denial of Jesus’ Lordship over you.
Sounds Xtreme? Certainly! But then again, so were the lengths Jesus went to in order to show us how much we are ALL LOVED. So, be Xtreme for χρηστος and be one of the vessels who are bringing Christ’s transformative love into the world!
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Being Xtreme does not mean being an extremist; rather, it means following Christ over and above the ways of the world, even if people end up thinking you are.
Lord, help me to be an Xtreme follower of Your way, an Xtreme speaker of your truth, and a witness to the Xtreme LOVE that leads to everlasting life.