The Choice that Changes Everything

People often ask me how they can make a difference in the world, impact the people around them, and reach those who seem unreachable. The answer to this question is far simpler than anyone is ever expecting me to say: Commit to following Jesus wholeheartedly, develop Christlike character, and don’t look back.

Don’t Look Back

When I gave my life to Jesus and became a Christian in 1973, I was a 17-year old drug user and a drug pusher. I lived a party lifestyle. I was a Korean hippie, looking everywhere for fulfillment, including Zen Buddhism. Yet none of those things brought me any real peace. It was when I realized the truth of Jesus Christ and encountered the loving presence of God that I committed to follow Jesus, and I haven’t looked back since.

There was an almost immediate change in me that was visible to my friends and family when I became a Christian. I began telling my friends about the love of God I had experienced right away. Even my sister began to see a change in me at home. Before Jesus, I never helped out around the house. But once I started taking out the trash every day and helping out, my sister realized that something truly did change me from the inside out and that Jesus was real. That kind of “lifestyle evangelism” made an impact on my sister and she gave her life to Jesus shortly after seeing the transformation in me. 

See, you don’t have to be a Christian all your life to be an evangelist and share the truth about Jesus that will transform people’s lives.

There is no way that I could have done half of what I have been able to accomplish in my life if I hadn’t first been caught on fire with the love of God and then chosen to commit my life and purpose to the Lord. Since giving my life to Jesus, I founded HRock Church with my wife, began Harvest International Ministry, became the International Chancellor for Wagner University, and traveled the world preaching the Gospel, all while raising our family of four God-loving children. None of this would have been possible if I had turned back to my old life before I knew Christ.

On Fire for Transformation

John Wesley, a powerful revivalist and co-founder of Methodism, said:

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.”

For us to make a lasting impression on the people we encounter, for the Gospel’s sake, we must desire to be on fire for God and then be able to last in our faithfulness to the Lord. How we live is the most tangible evidence and presentation of the Gospel to those who don’t yet know the Lord.

Our ability to seek God and resist the enemy has a direct correlation on our effectiveness in ministry (Hebrews 4:7-8). And just in case this message seems to be only for those called to full-time ministry, it’s not. It is for everyone.

Only 1% of the church will enter into full-time vocational ministry. The means that once we make Jesus our Lord and Savior, we are all made ministers of the Gospel to whatever sphere of influence we are in. So, if you are involved in government, education, media, or one of the other mountains of culture and society, God has sent you as a minister to the people in that field.

How can we practically commit to following Jesus wholeheartedly, develop Christlike character, and not look back at our past way of living, so that we may bring the ways of the Kingdom to earth and transform the world around us? When we commit to something or someone, we are saying that despite all of our options, we are making a quality choice in that direction. Likewise, when we choose to follow Jesus, our choice becomes a “yes” to Him and a “no” to other things that don’t line up with our developing Christlike character.

In John 6, Jesus shared the revelation that He was the “bread of life” and forecast to the group who considered themselves His followers that He was to give His life as an offering for the life of the world. They were both offended and confused by His words and many of them “went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66).

In response to their rejection, Jesus turned and asked His disciples if they too wanted to leave and turn back, and Peter responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68-69). Peter had encountered the truth about who Jesus was and then made his commitment to follow Jesus, no matter what would come, including offense. This is the same kind of choice and commitment we are called to make.

There is an old hymn that people would sing when I was growing up, that simply but powerfully communicates this commitment:

I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.
Though I may wander, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back, no turning back.  (S. Sundar Singh)

As laid-down lovers of Jesus, we are able to powerfully represent the Kingdom of God to those around us. This happens through our daily interactions as well as intentional outreach and evangelism, which is simply sharing the good news about Jesus. 

This good news is able to set people free, bring emotional and physical healing, deliverance, and redemption. And when we share, we are making a difference in our sphere of influence. If each of us reaches our sphere, collectively we will see a transformed world, which is what we were made to do!

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