“He called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’”

— Mark 8:34

By Kyle Idleman

A Christian father was getting ready to give his Christian daughter in marriage to an atheist, and he was rightly concerned about it. So he asked me, as a pastor, to meet with the young man. A pastor having lunch with an atheist sounds like the beginning of a joke, but he and I hit it off immediately and talked for hours. After he told me his story, I presented the gospel to him. It was the first time he had heard most of what I shared. At the end of our conversation, we prayed together, and he repented of his sins and confessed that he believed Jesus is the Son of God. I was amazed that God crossed our paths at just the right time.

The young couple got married and the husband’s new faith and commitment grew rapidly. One day after about a year, he called me. He had been married for 8 months and told me that things were going well. But he went on to explain that his father-in-law was upset with him, and he wanted to ask me what he should do.

“I’m really glad you’ve become a Christian, but Jesus never wanted you to become a fanatic.”

His father-in-law felt that his son-in-law should “throttle back” his faith. Apparently, he had been taking God’s Word seriously in the area of tithing, and his father-in-law felt the money would be better used saving for a house. The older man also disapproved of his son-in-law’s decision not to work on Sunday so he could worship God in church. The father-in-law said, “I’m really glad you’ve become a Christian, but Jesus never wanted you to become a fanatic.”  In other words, “I’m glad you’re following Jesus, but why don’t you put your cross down?”

Jesus, though, makes it clear that a decision to follow him is a decision to die to yourself. He didn’t come to this earth to modify your behavior or tweak you personality or fine-tune your manner or smooth out your rough spots. Jesus didn’t even come to earth to change you, making you a new and improved version of yourself. The truth of the gospel is that Jesus came so that you would die to your old way of life – and then live a new life for him. He came so that you would be like him. If you want to be his disciple, you must take up your cross daily and follow him.

In what ways is your story like the young man’s above? In what ways can you resonate with the father-in-law?

What does your cross look like? Describe areas of your life that you have sacrificed (or that you need to sacrifice) in order to fully follow Jesus. Meditate on this for a few minutes: If some one who knew you before you became a Christian were to describe how you’ve changed, what would they say? Would they accuse you of becoming a fanatic? I encourage you to share your thoughts below.

Content from “Following Jesus When People Think You’re A Fanatic” was taken from “Where Is Your Cross” in the book, not a fan. daily devotional: 75 Days to Becoming a Completely Committed Follower Of Jesus written by Kyle Idleman



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