By Matt Capps
Our modern lives are often pillowed with comforts and guarded by safety. It is convicting and inspiring to reflect on Christians throughout history who have been pressed through the hot irons of persecution or have lost their very lives for the sake of the gospel. If this history teaches us anything, it is that sometimes, the call to follow God’s will carries risk. Yet, the testimony of Scripture reminds us that if we live our lives on mission for God, our risks may be weighty, but our reward will be worth it.
The descriptions of Paul’s actions in Acts 21 can allow us to develop wisdom in situations that require risk. After Paul had spent some time encouraging Christians in Phoenicia, it was time to head back to Jerusalem. Before his departure, several Spirit-led Christians warned Paul of the dangers he would face as he returned there. In fact, a prophet by the name of Agabus declared that Paul would be arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the authorities. This was the Spirit’s way of preparing Paul for the hardships he would face.
And it is with bold confidence Paul declares that he is “…ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). Paul’s willingness to put his own safety and comfort on the line for the purpose of the mission is inspiring to say the least. Paul did as he said he would, he traveled to Jerusalem with eyes wide open to a dangerous situation that may cost him his life.
What Paul reminds us of here is that the path of obedience to God will have implications on our lives. For some, it may cost our lives. But the risk is worth it. As Jesus said, “Whoever loses his life because of me will find it” (Matthew 16:25). The question we must all ask ourselves is this: Are we willing to lay down our comforts and safety for the mission of God? We all understand that the risks are high. At the end of the day, we must decide if we believe that the reward is worth it. As odd as it may seem, losing our lives and laying down our freedoms is not so tragic in light of eternity. The true tragedy is treasuring our own lives above the call of Christ.
It’s been said that we must die to ourselves before we die—there are no chances after. I imagine that when Paul breathed his last, he did so with no regrets. He followed God wherever he was called. I wonder if you and I are ready to say the same?