I spent the weekend at Youth Convention with my church’s youth ministry. There are a lot of things that could be said about this weekend, but the one thing that resonated in my heart – the one that was given enough consideration to be hastily scribbled onto the back of a business card in the middle of a worship service – was when 2,000 voices banded together to sing, “We will follow You to the cross.”
That’s the only line I remember from that song because it’s the line that forced me to stop singing and challenged me to think instead.
Would I? Would I follow Him all the way to the cross? Would I have been one of the women who stayed at his side until the brutal end? Or would I have been like the other disciples? The ones who ran and hid until the storm blew over – until the resurrection shattered the fear that clouded their hearts? Or worse yet, would I have been like Peter – who swore He never knew the crucified Messiah?
There I stood amongst 2,000 young people who boldly declared that they would stand firm to the end, when I stopped to wonder if they really knew what they were saying. Because the disciples had proclaimed such words too. At one point in time, Thomas even said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (see John 11), but when the time came for dying, he fled with all the others. Because he didn’t really want to die for Jesus. He wasn’t ready to follow Him all the way to the cross.
And I think of the many times I’ve sang lyrics similar to the ones I heard this weekend. I think of the many times I’ve said I’ll follow Him to the cross. Did I really mean those words? Do I really have what it takes to be a martyr? I’d like to say so, but I’m finding that I can’t declare it with such a fervent conviction. I’d much rather stick with safe promises like:
I’ll follow You… up to a certain point.
I’ll follow You… as long as You’re going my way.
I’ll follow You… until I find something I’d rather follow.
Because when life is all sunshine and roses, it’s easy to say that you would die for Jesus, but when you’re staring down the barrel of a gun, the words tend to lodge in your throat.
The scary thing is, Jesus never promised that following Him would be easy. In fact, He only ever told people how hard it is to be His disciple. And He isn’t looking for halfhearted followers; He’s looking for the ones who will follow Him all the way to the cross.
I wonder what percentage of those 2,000 teenagers actually have the guts to follow Him that far. I wonder which percentage I’m in.