WASHINGTON — Francis Chan is calling on Christians to be willing to give up their lives for Jesus and not compromise the Gospel by hiding behind otherwise good causes.
Speaking on the main stage Saturday night on the National Mall before tens of thousands assembled from all 50 states at America's Tent of Meeting sponsored by Awaken the Dawn, Chan encouraged believers to be willing to lay down their lives for Christ and to not shrink back from being bold.
"What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?" Chan asked, citing the Words of Jesus in Mark 8:36.
"I'm promising you, if you try to save your life, you're going to lose it, but you're not going to regret it."
Chan, 50, who leads We Are Church, a network of house churches based in the San Francisco Bay Area, mentioned that he has reached a point in his life where he's getting rid of more and more stuff. And there is no point in trying to have it all, he said, and protect ones life from all possible forms of suffering.
"We live in a time when Christians are starting to change their theology because they're ashamed of the Words of Jesus Christ, because it's not popular," Chan continued. "We can busy our lives with good things that aren't the most important thing, and I feel like there's a cop-out in Christianity today."
Many are willing to care for the poor, fight human trafficking, and work toward racial reconciliation, he added, and he counts himself among such people. And those are all good, important, biblical causes, he said.
"But I'm just noticing that there are very few people who are spreading the Gospel," he said impassionedly. "And I think I know why."
"I've never been persecuted for feeding the poor. I'm applauded for that. No one's persecuted me for my fighting [against] human trafficking. They applaud me for that. No one gets angry at me because I want unity in the Church, racial reconciliation or even reconciliation between denominations."
Persecution comes, Chan said, when he shares the core truths of the Gospel that are not politically correct.
"When I tell someone that they are by nature an object of wrath, and that they have to stand before holy God and that there is no name under Heaven by which you can be saved except by the name of Jesus Christ. And when I call out sin for what it is in Scripture, I get persecuted."
"And there are times when I am ashamed of the Gospel," he admitted, "and I'll cower and I'll shrink back and I won't say everything God calls me to say."
Those other things are noble and godly, he reiterated, but it's easy to hide behind them and refrain from sharing the Gospel.
"You will lose your life, you'll lose your reputation," he said, "And my stance on morality, in a city like San Francisco," but I don't want to be ashamed.
"But I don't want to be ashamed of Jesus and His Words, because I don't want Him ashamed of me when He comes."
He pleaded: "All I want to do tonight is just beg you" to lay it all down for Jesus.
He urged the crowd to read the Bible for themselves, saying it's impossible to read it cover to cover and think that there will be no judgement.
"Guys, it's time for us to hurt again," like the Apostle Paul who wrote of his "anguish" for those who did not know Jesus, Chan said.
"I know it's not fun. But if we're going to lose our lives the Bible says when you do that, that's when you're going to find it."
The Americas Tent of Meeting will continue throughout the weekend and conclude on Monday.