If I become a Jesus follower, where will He lead me? What or who will I have to leave behind?
This is a critical and very personal question for every one of us. It exposes some of our greatest fears. Does following Jesus mean giving up certain friends, fun times, or even family? Will it cost me my job or my health?
Perhaps we can rephrase the question this way: “Will following Jesus be worth it all? Is it better than anyone or anything else the world can offer?”
A young man had been hired as a regional manager for the largest insurance corporation in the world: AIG. He had everything a young single man could imagine~ a large office in NY City, an equally large expense account, people to supervise, and a bright future ahead. And yet…this young man had felt the call of God on his life to leave his dream job and follow Jesus into full time ministry.
Not everyone who decides to follow Jesus will have to leave their dream job, but for this young man, that was what he believed Jesus was asking of him. He sold his stock options, his fancy car, quit his job, broke off his engagement with his fiancé, and went to seminary.
Who was this young man? My husband, Dennis Episcopo, former lead pastor of Appleton Alliance Church. Just recently after 40 years in ministry we returned to New York City and visited his old “stomping grounds” on Wall Street. We will never know what his life would have been like if he had stayed, but no matter, following Jesus has been worth it. More than worth it.
The apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippian church says he considers whatever he had to leave behind to follow Jesus as “rubbish” compared to “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8). Paul discovered, just as Dennis had, that we can never outgive God and whatever we are called to leave behind does not even compare with the glorious life he wants to replace it with (2 Corinthians 4:17).
A key to this life changing faith is to follow Jesus and be willing to forsake all else. It’s trusting in the amazing love God has for each of us. Jesus demonstrated with his very life, this divine love, on the cross.This is what it cost him to love us. His love is enough. It frees us from any of our fears that might prevent us from following him (I John 4:18). This is the love that Dennis experienced, just like many others, that enabled him to leave his old life behind for the new life God had in store.