Pastor J.D. Greear of Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, has revealed that he almost gave up on Jesus when he faced a threat to his life overseas.
In a blog post on his website Wednesday, the megachurch pastor recalled the story of Judas' betrayal of Jesus, and how Christ told His other disciples that all of them would fall away, even if not in the same way as Judas. The point Jesus was making in Matthew 26:31, Greear said, was that all people have a price in terms of how far they can walk with Him.
"I haven't always answered this question well. For instance, when I lived overseas, we had a Bible distribution project go really wrong. The police captured four of the national believers and put them in prison. Meanwhile, an agitated mob found and burned their car, demanding that the police release these men," he shared.
"There wasn't any direct proof that I was connected with these believers, but my supervisor put me under house arrest as a precaution. I thought that at any moment the mob might come for me," he added.
Greear admitted that his response was not one of faith and courage.
"That was a dark and lonely time for me, and I found myself ready to walk away from the mission altogether. I learned that it's one thing to say you're willing to give up your life for Jesus; it's quite another when you think someone is about to take you up on that offer. You see, I had found my price," he recalled.
"Thankfully, God used this low point to begin a time of rebuilding in my life. But at the moment, I was asking what Peter, James, and John had asked that fateful night: 'It's not me, Lord ... is it?'"
The pastor, who's set to be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention in June in Dallas, Texas, suggested that people might have other kinds of limitations in their faith.
"Maybe you downplay your commitment to Jesus in front of your friends because you don't want them to mock you. Maybe God has told you go somewhere — or told your kids to go somewhere — and you're resisting Him," he suggested.
"Maybe He is calling you to put Him first in your finances, but you 'just aren't ready' to make those changes. Maybe it is simply committing to the church — finally stepping up to become a member and join a serving team," he added, warning that people's commitment to Jesus sometimes stops at the point of inconvenience.
"Take a hard look at that point, because that's your price. That's where your commitment to Jesus stops and you sell Him out."
Other notable Christian leaders, including the Rev. Franklin Graham, have also warned that Christians must consider the cost of following Jesus, and whether they are willing to carry their own cross, as found in Like 14:25.
"I believe that what Jesus is saying [is] if you're going to follow me, you have to give me all of it," Graham said in January 2017 during a sermon at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.
"I come first, I don't come second. I come first. Your love for Me has to be greater than that of your wife, your mom, your dad, your family, all of your relatives — everything else in this world. Your love for me has to be number one."