Most of us know the famous hymn “I have decided to follow Jesus.”
The story behind the hymn originated in India, after the Welsh Revival. A missionary in North East India shared the gospel to a people who were very violent and had never heard the gospel before. After hearing the good news, a father and his family decided to follow Jesus Christ.
When the chief found out about the family’s new faith, he brought the family out to the village and said they needed to announce their new faith to everyone. The father, however, stood up and stated “No, I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.” The chief ordered for his wife and children to be shot and killed and then asked the father again to announce his faith to the people. But the father said, “Though none go with me, still I will follow Jesus Christ.” He was shot and killed as well.
The chief who ordered this family to be shot and killed wanted to know more about Christ and so did the rest of the village, and so they decided to become Christ followers.
What a testimony of faith, all because of one family who decided to lay down their lives so that others would hear and know the gospel. If this story challenges you as it does for me, let me encourage you with this scripture verse. “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect, will of God.”
I’ve often been told that when someone hears the gospel for the first time, it either makes them mad, glad or sad. In this case, I’m sure the village was experiencing all three of these emotions once they witnessed this family die in front of their eyes, all because of their authentic faith in Jesus Christ. Authentic faith is demonstrated through a person’s actions. This family who said they have decided to follow Jesus actually meant what they said. Why? Because even though they were being threatened and under attack, they remained faithful to the One who died to pay for their sins.
While not every testimony is like this, you can recognize genuine faith in a person’s life simply by their actions. Someone who lives for Christ is characterized by what they left behind in order to follow Him. In my own life, I have chosen to leave behind my old lifestyle such as drinking and partying. There are so many other things I have decided to leave behind in order to follow Jesus.
A genuine change in someone’s life also involves taking responsibility. Whether it is taking on a leadership role or planning for the future, a person of genuine faith is one who thinks about the generation to come rather than just the here and now. I think so often our generation is so caught up in the popular phrase “you only live once”, that we have forgotten the truth that is written in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things.”
What areas of your life do you wish you could “leave behind” in order to become the best version of you possible? What is holding you back from leaving those things behind in order to follow God’s “perfect will” for your life?