But the word of God continued to spread and flourish. Acts 12:24
The ever present threat of death does not stop those fueled by passion for Christ; it never will.
To become Christ centered is to live in tension. Barnabas and Saul lived in tension.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two:I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;” Philippians 1:21-23
Today, we live in a culture that proclaims a passionless allegiance to Christ, a culture that knows more about Him than ever, but whose life-style declares the opposite.
Believing we have all we need, we have no need of Him.
We do not see ourselves as needy and lost; as a result we have made Him a little more than a talisman, rather than our Lord and Savior.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." Matthew 16:24-25
His call challenges the heart to a change beyond its natural tendencies or abilities. It requires full, willing submission to the hand of God working in us. It is a call to put ego and self-serving aside for the sake of another. It can only happen through Christ’s life in us.
Barnabas and Saul lived this:
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:2-3
Only a heart that has been tempered, a heart on fire for the lost, is qualified to be set apart to fully answer the call of the Holy Spirit.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
The ‘Called Ones,’ those who “Know” Jesus, are easy to recognize; they have lost their care for their own comfort, life and for the things of earth.
“…They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 5:40-42
“Lord, give me the passion to love and live for what Your love died for: the person next to me.”