“Christ of St. John of the Cross” by Salvador Dali
This series is excerpted from a piece written by an author at Christaslife.com. The author wished to remain anonymous.
How Do We Identify the Followers of Christ?
Jesus’ words in Luke 9 have already given us the basic answer as to how we might identify the “followers” of Christ, but let us address another scripture for the moment:
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev. 12:11).
As we consider the content in this verse, it might be good to ask ourselves some questions. First of all, who did the overcoming here in this passage? The answer is, it was “they”. At this point, we might assume that “they” represent the FOLLOWERS of Jesus. Next we might ask, by what means did they overcome? We are told that there are several facets to this answer. First, they overcame by the blood of the Lamb, which is based on the unselfish giving of Himself. In other words, overcoming was not simply the result of a magical substance called “blood”, for blood would not have been available if selflessness had not first been the primary motivation.
The ones who overcame also did so based on not loving their own lives, even to the point of the supreme sacrifice ‒ unto death. In both cases, the requisite for their actions was self-denial and unselfish motives. If that is the case, then the reference to “they” in this passage could not possibly be a reference to just any old Christian who has resisted self-denial, run from any daily application of the Cross, and did everything else he could to follow a Christianity that was all about comfort, blessings, and saving his life.
Clearly our ability to overcome Satan first came by One who only thought of others and gave up heaven itself for our freedom. Will we, then, turn around and live just the opposite of Him? The answer is: There are those who, just the opposite of Jesus, seek only to make sure they are saved and going to heaven, while Jesus willingly gave that up for us.
How do we know to call the “they” of this verse “followers” and not just Christians? Jesus said that those who “followed Him” live by self-denial and an application of the Cross daily to their lives. These that “love not their lives unto the death” clearly fit that description. They are so like Jesus in that He gave up everything for God and others unselfishly unto death.
- Self-Denial and Cross-Bearing (Part 1) (thevoiceofone.org)