“Be faithful until death” (Rev. 2:10). Jesus said this to the church at Smyrna. Its members were suffering financial loss, imprisonment, public accusation, and in some cases death. This verse has renewed for me what is the deepest call in the Christian life: to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).
“Be faithful until death.” This may be physical death but there are many ways death presents itself as we walk with Christ. Be faithful even when dreams die. Be faithful when desires go unfulfilled. Be faithful even when you haven’t received what God has promised (Heb. 11:13). Be faithful when your family dissociates from you. Be faithful when…fill in the blank.
Paul said “I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth….” (Php. 3:8). This got me thinking: Choosing Christ has caused me to lose things. But do I also consider those things filth or garbage compared to gaining Jesus? Or do I value them in such a way that my affection for them rivals Christ even in their loss?
Jesus requires all of us, 100%. That is what the cross means. “I no longer live but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). “Be faithful until death”–the loss of my self, preferences, autonomy, goals, aspirations, and self-determination–“and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). The crown of life is Christ Himself, being our life, aspiration, motivation, purpose. It’s a trade–all of ourselves for all of Him. What, really, do we have to lose?