Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Cost

Recently we finished up our high school winter retreat at RMCC. During the retreat we challenged the students to go "All In" with their walk with God. As I was preparing and delivering these messages I found it rather challenging. The challenging part wasn't knowing what to say, rather it was the convicting message that is so clearly laid out in Jesus teachings. Still weeks later I'm troubled by this challenge and left wondering if I'm living what I'm preaching. 

This is a part of Jesus' teachings that many of us like to ignore. It makes us uncomfortable and challenges us to question what being a Christian is all about. Today we like to personalize our faith and make it convenient to us. But Jesus' call to follow him was never about convenience, rather it is about allegiance. And if you accept the call it is going to cost you everything. 

Luke 14:25-33 makes this idea clear. Hate your father, mother, wife, children... Even hate your own life. This is a bold statement that should be a little repulsive to us. We naturally want to love these people and we especially love ourselves! Jesus is saying that to follow Him we have to hate them. Now this isn't a literal hatred, rather he is saying that we need to follow and love Him first and foremost. This is a tough concept to grasp a hold of and tougher still to live out. 

1 John 2:15-17 takes this idea a little further. If you love the things of this world you cannot love the Father. The word that John uses in this passage for love is "agape" meaning unconditional love. John isn't saying we cannot "like" anything in this world, rather we shouldn't put our hope or happiness in things of this world. This passage is an other look at the cost of following Jesus. It means that when everyone around us is obsessing about money, power, fame, looks, etc... We are looking at Jesus and ignoring everything else. It is backwards, unnatural, and difficult. But that is the cost of following Him. 

One thing should be clear, if we want to follow Jesus it is going to cost us dearly. 

I know this sounds very offensive to a lot of people. We like to follow a God that doesn't mess with our personal life or tell us how to live. However if we want to follow Jesus then we don't have a choice, we cannot be a true follower and live for ourselves. Think of the disciples and all that they gave up to follow Jesus. We too are called to be disciples, abandoning our lives in pursuit of Jesus. 

God doesn't want part of us, He wants ALL of us. 

This might seem like a price to heavy to pay for some and many might be wondering why God would ask so much. But let us not forget the cost that Jesus paid first so that we could follow Him. While we were still sinners Jesus paid for our sins. When we didn't deserve it, when we turned our back on God, He stayed faithful to us. God didn't have to save us, but He choose to because of His unrelenting love for us. He paid a price for us that we can never repay. 

Jesus gave up everything in pursuit of us when He had everything to lose. Now we are to give up everything to follow Him, but we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

We might think that God is asking too much of us, but it is minuscule in comparison to what He did for us. He is asking us to give up what is temporary in pursuit of what is forever. 

It's a call I wonder if I am totally living up to myself. It is very easy to talk about and say how true it is, however talk is cheap. The real test isn't knowing the right answers, rather it's living those answers out in your life. It's making those sacrifices and abandoning your fleshly desires and pursuing God wholeheartedly. 

I desperately want to accept the call and abandon everything for God. However time and time again my flesh and desires get in the way. That's where the good news comes in... Jesus' blood on the cross covers my mistakes and allows me to keep pursuing God. Some think that accepting God's grace is nothing more then a free pass; a get out of jail free card. That is a cheap watered down view of grace. We are forgiven so we can keep pursuing God, so that we can be with the One that loves us more then we could ever know. 

It's not an easy call to accept, but it's more I don't think we will ever regret. I will end with the words of Paul in Romans 8:18-21:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 

This is the call of Jesus. I am All In.