In a sermon he gave at the Send conference in Brazil, Francis Chan challenged the crowd to count the cost of preserving their own lives instead of wholeheartedly giving themselves to God.
“We live in a time when too many Christians are obsessed with staying alive,” said Chan. “And Paul says, ‘My life has no value. I just want it used to tell others about Jesus.”
Count the Cost of ‘Saving’ Your Life Instead of ‘Losing’ It
Chan began his sermon by reading part of Acts 20, in which Paul tells the Ephesian church elders that the Holy Spirit is compelling him to go to Jerusalem. There, Paul knows he will face “prison and hardships.” But, he tells the elders in verse 24, “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”
“This is such an important verse for our generation,” said Chan. “Paul says, ‘I don’t count my life of any value.’ Can you say that, that you don’t count your life of any value?”
Chan said, “I want you all to experience a life that is given over for the gospel.” It is hard to live with this kind of focus because the enemy is constantly trying to distract us with the idea that our best life is in this world. “Even in the church, people will tell you to play it safe,” said Chan. “But that’s not what Jesus said.”
In two weeks, Chan and his family are leaving the U.S. to be missionaries in Asia, a decision they made after returning from the slums of Myanmar six months ago. They had spent time there going hut to hut, telling people about God. “They had never heard of Jesus before,” said Chan, “and they’re just staring at me, listening. I tell you, I felt so much peace at that moment.”
When he and his wife got on the plane to return to the States, he asked her, “What do we do on a normal day that even compares to this?” He then suggested moving to Asia, to which she responded, “Let’s do it.”
Only two weeks ago, Chan was again in Myanmar in a village where no one had ever heard Jesus’ name. Again, he felt a deep sense of peace and thought to himself, “I want everyone to feel this peace. Because this is what we were made for.”
Chan mentioned that he currently lives in San Francisco, where people really enjoy food and are picky about what they eat. They are so focused on eating quality foods that they will criticize any meals that do not meet their standards. This foodie culture stands in stark contrast to an experience Chan had when he visited a camp in Africa filled with about as many people as were in the crowd listening to his sermon.
When he arrived at the camp, he saw that a woman there was screaming and acting crazy. Chan soon realized she was distressed because her son was lying at her feet, clearly starving. He looked like a skeleton, and Chan saw that people in the camp all around him were also starving. “So it was very hard,” he said, “to go back to San Francisco and be a foodie again.”
Said Chan, “Right now the church is filled with spiritual foodies.” What he meant was many people listen to sermon after sermon with a picky mindset, criticizing what the speakers are saying and, “Meanwhile, there’s people in the world who have never heard of Jesus!”
We have no business nitpicking sermons if we are not willing to share the gospel with people who have never heard it, said Chan. And the purpose of The Send conference is to challenge people to count the cost and go into that world for that very reason: “We’ve asked you to come, to die.”
Chan said his hope was those at the conference would not merely hear a sermon, but that the Holy Spirit would fall upon them—“into the core of your being”—opening people’s eyes. Then they would no longer view their lives as precious, but would count the cost and clearly see that Jesus is worth dying for.