No Going Back

Willow Creek | September 7, 2021

This past weekend, Pastor Dave gave a message called “Live Out Loud: Nicodemus, The Pharisees, and Sharing Our Faith.” Throughout his message, Dave shared the Biblical account of Nicodemus, once a skeptical Pharisee turned follower of Christ. After an encounter with Jesus under cover of darkness, and coming to believe Jesus was the only way to Heaven (see John chapter 3), Nicodemus publicly declared “Jesus is Lord” by how he lived his life. 


By Nicodemus stating his faith in Jesus, there was no going back. The Pharisees (the Jewish religious leaders of the time) couldn’t stand Jesus, especially when He proclaimed to be the Son of God. So, at some point, Nicodemus had a choice to make: was he going to continue being a Pharisee and believing in old Jewish law, or was he going to put his faith and trust in Jesus, who God had sent to save the world? We don’t know many details about Nicodemus’ life, but we do know what he chose. In John 7:50, Nicodemus is described as being “one of their own number.” Nicodemus decided to follow Jesus. He was “all in.” 


To follow Jesus, Nicodemus had to give up his job, social status, and certain relationships, and he did. Why? Because he knew Jesus Christ was the only way to Heaven. As Christians, do you and I have the same level of courage and faith as Nicodemus?


What have we given up? It’s easy to be a Christian behind closed doors, but what do others think of us when it comes to who we are in public? Are they able to see how we’re acting, listen to what we’re saying, and know we’re Christians? Like Nicodemus, are we “all in,” or are we Christians in name only? 


Nicodemus essentially gave up all the security he had to follow Jesus. Christians around the world today are persecuted, imprisoned, and killed for their faith. For us, do we talk like Christians, act like Christians, and love, hope, and pray like Christians, or are we on the fence? Being on the fence might be where we like going to church, but we also enjoy partying. We like praying, but we also purchase pornography. We like Jesus, but we also think other religions can be right, too. If we’ve become Christians and our lives haven’t changed–how we act, what we say, and/or what we believe–then maybe it’s time we take a hard look at our lives and ask ourselves, “why?” 


There’s a cost to being a Christian. In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” There are three steps in this verse: 1) deny yourself, 2) pick up your cross, and 3) follow Me


1) Once we’re Christians, there are lifestyle choices we’re supposed to give up. We’re not supposed to live like we have been. We’re supposed to deny the wants of the flesh–the drinking, partying, sexing, etc. and start living differently.


2) In the same vein, once we’re Christians, we’re supposed to pick up our crosses. We’re supposed to focus on Jesus and all He has for us. The time of living for ourselves is over; we’re carrying our crosses, and it’s a beautiful thing, but there is an earthly, fleshly cost to doing so.


3) And finally, we’re told to follow Jesus–act like Him, love like Him, and believe like Him. We’ve all seen the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets, and as cliché as they’ve become, what a powerful question to ask ourselves each and every day, maybe even a dozen or so times a day. 


When we accept Christ, we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Like Nicodemus, when we follow Jesus, there is no going back to the way things were. We’re alive, new, and “all in.” We pick up our crosses daily, deny our human desires and wants, and instead follow Jesus. It’s not always easy, fun, or popular, but getting closer to Christ and experiencing Him–that’s the reward, and it’s worth every sacrifice.