Psalm 45:10-11, 13-15

Listen to me, O royal daughter; take heart to what I say. Forget your people and your homeland far away. For your royal husband delights in your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. [...] The bride, a princess, waits within her chambers, dressed in a gown woven with gold. In her beautiful robes, she is led to the king, accompanied by her bridesmaids. What a joyful, enthusiastic procession as they enter the king's palace!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Cost of Following Christ

Since I've been dealing with entitlements lately, I started studying the topic and since I process things better when I regurgitate it. So, here it is...

There is a cost in following Christ. He calls us to leave everything behind in pursuit of following him in our obedience. Through our life we pick up bad habits, ideas, and lies from the world that there are certain things we have earned or deserved. But, truly, we deserve nothing. We were born into sin, corrupted and enemies of God. We were saved from death and the judgment of God. There’s no way around it, we deserve death apart from Christ. Through the mercies of the Lord, we were saved. A way has been made for our reconciliation to God through Christ. The only catch is that to pursue Christ we must give up anything and everything we possess and attain. We must abandon ourselves to His will, so that he may freely work in our lives for His kingdom’s glory. The cost seems insignificant compared to the pit of hell, and yet we struggle with relinquishing our self, possessions, families, and achievements to God.

We must face the truth that “rights mean nothing in the pursuit of Christ” (Jesus-Ministry 2, 3). Entitlements occur in our life when we pick and choose which areas we will obey God. A person walking in entitlements “looks at the cost of following Jesus, and is unwilling to give up certain areas of life to Christ” (Freedom Resource Manual, 69).

Jesus demands that those who follow him give up everything or they cannot go with him. Look at Luke 9:57-62, Jesus meets three different men. The first one tells Jesus that he “will follow you wherever you go” (v. 57) and Jesus’ reply is that the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. Jesus’ first demand is to give up the entitlement of comfort. He was a traveling miracle-worker; he had no guarantee for a hot meal and a comfy bed to come home to at night. The next man Jesus tells, “Follow me.” The man replies, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus’ response was not the typical sympathic remark we might have expected. Jesus responds, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

The second entitlement we must give up to follow Christ is our time. The Jesus didn’t ask this man to consider following him, he gave a direct command. Jesus gave a similar command when he called his disciples and they left everything and followed him. It’s also interesting to note that Jesus “you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” This man was thinking of his own needs and Jesus was focused on his mission: proclaiming the kingdom of God. When we try to tell God when we will work for him or what times are convenient for us, we are trying to pull the reins of control. When we choose to follow Christ we gave up our right to control when God directs us to work for his purpose. Our time is the Lord’s and our focus should always be for His glory, His kingdom work.

The third man approaches Jesus saying, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family” (Lk. 9:61). Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62). Having no rights before the throne of God is serious business. Jesus is very clear here that if we are holding back, if we put conditions on our following Christ then we are not fit to serve His kingdom. Jesus is calling us unworthy to even serve, to even be lowly for the kingdom of God if we do not give up everything!

The third entitlement we must give up is our service. We must relinquish “picking and choosing whether or not to serve, and the where and how of service” (Jesus-Ministry 2, 75). This man put conditions on his service to God. He had the desire to serve and follow Christ, but he was not yet ready to be extreme for Christ. He was not yet ready to throw everything away to follow Christ. Yes, we must even give up our hold over our family in following Christ. It is a cost some are not willing to give up, but if we don’t then we lose the greatest prize of all—the kingdom of God! When the man uttered that conjunction “but” he was putting limitations of what the Lord could ask of him. Is it too much for the Lord to ask us to leave behind all of our family—our most precious commodity—for Him? Did he not give up his only Son for the least of the world? If God is not entitled to save His very own Son, then we are not entitled to even our family.

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