I once had the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with a man who counsels kings, queens, presidents and corporate CEO’s. He said, “I want to start off our conversation with a question. ‘If you woke up tomorrow morning with $10 Million in your bank account, how would that change your life?'” That amount of money would certainly change most of our lives. You can’t come into that much money and not live differently than before. It’s the same when we give our lives to Jesus. You can’t invite him into your life and not be changed.
The message of John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and Paul was “Repent.” It wasn’t, “Say a prayer and you’re a Christian.” The word repent in its original form means “A change of mind.” God asks us to change our mind from how we were living to a new way of thinking that in turns changes how we live. You can’t change your behavior unless you change your mind. The call to repentance was and is about changing how you live.
Jesus put it another way. He said, “If any man wants to follow me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” I love how the Amplified version takes Luke 9:23 and really explains what Jesus said there. It puts it, “If any person wills to come after me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow me [cleave steadfastly to me, conform wholly to my example in living and, if need be, in dying also].” When Jesus said repent and follow Him, He wasn’t asking you to say a prayer. He was asking you to give up yourself and how you want to live.
There’s a missionary in Haiti I’ve met several times. He moved there over twenty years ago and never went back to his home country. He is involved in pastor get a church, orphan care, running a school, feeding the helpless, running a bakery and water purification shop, helping deaf girls learn sign language and so many other things. When asked why he does so much and how could he never go back home, he responded with, “My life is not my own. When I said, ‘Yes’ to Jesus, I gave up my life.” Those words should challenge us in how we live.
He understands what it means to follow Jesus by taking up his cross and denying himself. You may not be called to leave your home country and live in a third world country the rest of your life, but you have been called to change how and why you live. The call to repentance is a call to change your reason for living. It’s a call to give up what you want for what God wants. Philippians 2:5-6 says we need to have the mind of Christ who gave up what He wanted for what the Father wanted. He was and is our example of daily taking up our cross. He showed us how to submit to what God wants.
If you think back to the $10 Million question earlier, just like you can’t come into that kind of money and not be changed, you can’t have a real encounter with Jesus and not be changed. When you say, “Yes” to Jesus, your whole life and way of thinking should change. I liked that question he asked, but I think the question you and I should think about today is, “If you woke up tomorrow morning and had fully surrendered your life to Jesus, how would your life change?” Think about it and then surrender your will to His. You’ll find there’s no better life to live than one that is fully submitted to Him.