by Bill Denton
"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it" (Matt 10:37-39).
Jim Denison served as a missionary in East Malaysia. While there he attended a small church. At one of the church's worship services, a teenage girl came forward to announce her decision to follow Christ and be baptized.
During the service, Denison noticed some worn-out luggage leaning against the wall of the church building. When he asked about it, he was told, "Her father said that if she was baptized as a Christian she could never go home again. So she brought her luggage."
—Raymond McHenry, Stories for the Soul (Hendrickson, 2001)
Wow! Every time I hear a story like that it humbles me and impresses me. Not everyone who professes faith in Jesus and obeys him in baptism will find himself or herself in the same position as that young Malaysian girl. Many do, though, and you simply must be impressed and admire such faith and determination. It is not easy to make such a choice.
On the other hand, we may be not be looking at things correctly, and we may not be asking people to make a decision to follow Jesus Christ as clearly as we should. The truth is that family is not the only thing a person might need to "leave" when becoming a Christian.
If you are not a Christian, let me focus your attention on some things you might have to "leave." It may be necessary for you to leave your friends. You may be running with people who will sap your faith and destroy any semblance of godliness in your life.
You might have to leave some habits of life behind. These habits are among the things that identify the sins for which you need forgiveness. You can't bring them with you into your new life in Christ. You must abandon them for new habits.
You might have to leave a job or chosen profession behind. The reason for this is that the work you are doing might itself be ungodly and unchristian. God won't sanctify something that is innately wrong.
You might have to leave your entertainment behind. The fact is that much entertainment is sensual, and filled with encouragement to participate in, or gain pleasure from, things that are sinful. Take a good look. There may be much to leave.
The truth is a lot of people need to think about packing their "bags." Baptism is part of the dividing line between the old man marked by sin, and the new man marked by righteousness. In baptism we are buried into the death of Jesus, then we rise to walk in newness of life (Rom 6). When you choose to follow Jesus, you must also choose not to continue in the same old life.
Pack your bags. God will take you on a life-changing journey. Don't plan on returning.