God's Love Is Free, But Not Cheap
March 1, 2010
*Published in the Ashland Times Gazette, 8.14.09
Down through the centuries, Christians have suffered and died for their faith, for this free gift of God's love. Even today, around the world, thousands of Christians risk their lives each day for their faith.
According to a Wikipedia article on the persecution of Christians in the two thousand years since Christ, about 70 million believers, of whom 45.5 million or 65% lived in the twentieth century, have been killed for their faith.
This week a News agency reported that an Ohio teen, who converted from Islam to Christianity, ran away from home because of threats from her own family to kill her because of her conversion.
God's love is free, but sometimes God's love will cost us, because God's love will change us.
While it might not cost us our lives literally, it will cause us to die to the old way of life.
It might cost me a job, if an employer asks me to do something that is not pleasing to God. It might cost me a relationship that I now see as unhealthy and sinful. It might cost me a habit that I like because I now see it as a sin and something that blocks me from experiencing the full love of God.
God's love is free but it is not cheap. God's love is given to us at a great cost to God-it cost God His Son.
It is not cheap-it has been handed down to us through the generations at the cost of those who have given their lives to share their faith.
God's love is not cheep-it demands that we give it away to others no matter what is might cost us personally.
Are you ready to count the cost and stay faithful? By His grace, may we all be ready.
This should not come to us as a surprise, because Jesus made it clear to those around Him.
Luke 14:25-27: And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
What then did Christ mean? Very simply...
- Christ is to be first in a person's life: before family, even before self.
- Christ is to be put before family: even if one's family opposes his decision to follow Christ.
- Christ is to be put first: before the companionship and comfort and pleasure of family and home.
- All-even family and self-are to be put behind Christ and His mission. All must be denied and put behind a person's love and devotion to Christ and His cause.
The following might illustrate what Jesus was talking about:
Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, WE HAVE LEFT ALL, and have followed Thee. (Mark 10:28).
And when they had brought their ships to land, THEY FORSOOK ALL, and followed Him (Luke 5:11).
Christ used two parables to get His point across:
Luke 14:28-33: For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
A man who wants to build a tower, first sits down to think about the project and to count the cost.
Does he have sufficient resources, enough of what it takes to finish the task?
He has to make sure, or else he will not be able to finish the task and will end up being mocked.
The point is clear: before a person begins to follow Christ, Christ wants that person to think about it. He wants the person to be sure, absolutely sure. Can he afford to follow through; does he have what it takes to build the tower (life)? Why? Because a false profession damages the Kingdom of God.
A false profession causes...
- the world to mock and charge true believers with being hypocritical.
- potential believers to turn sour.
- believers to be hampered and hindered in their ministry.
- some believers to become discouraged.
The second parable concerned two kings at war. The king being attacked had only ten thousand soldiers, whereas the king marching against him had twenty thousand soldiers.
The defending king sat down and thought long and hard about his resources and the consequences. He was forced to think about the loss of life and property even if he did win.
Note: this king had to make a decision. He was being invaded. He had to decide to fight against the invading king or to surrender. He had to think through the consequences both ways, the consequences of fighting or surrendering.
The point of the two parables is clear:
A man must pay the ultimate price. He must forsake all, renounce and give up all that he is and has; or else "he cannot be my disciple." When a man counts the cost of following Christ, he needs to think about two things.
1. It will cost him all he is.
The man must be willing to center his life around Christ and His mission to reach a world lost and full of desperate needs. It will cost the man...
- his heart: total devotion and commitment.
- his mind: being controlled by Christ.
- his eyes: watching what he looks at.
- his ears: watching what he listens to.
- his hands: watching what he touches and picks up.
- his feet: watching where he goes.
- his mouth: watching what he eats and drinks and says.
- his desires: watching, controlling, and changing his urges and desires.
- his energy: committing his strength, initiative, and will to Christ.
- his effort and work: dedicating and centering all in Christ, using his efforts and work in the cause of Christ.
Romans 12:1 says, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye PRESENT YOUR BODIES a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2. It will cost him all he has.
The man must be willing to give everything he has to Christ, without watering down the cost. It is this point that will cause so many to be lost and doomed (see Luke 18:18-30-Luke 18:18-30-Matthew 10:16-23- Matthew 10:16-23).
To really follow Christ will cost...
- family: being put after Christ.
- friends: being put after Christ and centered around Christ.
- home: all the comforts and extravagances.
- job: being centered around Christ and being used to earn enough to give to those who do not have (Ephes. 4:28).
- money: taking care of personal necessities and then using the rest for God's cause.
Whatever a person has, it will cost him. He must surrender it to Christ, which is to say, he must be willing to use it in the Lord's mission, the mission of helping a world lost and reeling under the weight of enormous needs.
When a man counts the cost of following Christ, he must think about the consequences of both fighting against Christ and surrendering to Christ. If the man chooses to reject Christ, to struggle against Him, the man will...
- never experience abundant life, deep satisfaction (John 10:10).
- never know God, His love and care, on a daily basis.
- never have an eternal sense of purpose, meaning, and significance.
- never know nor have the assurance of eternal life.
- never be free from the uncertainty of life.
- never be free from the dread and fear of death.
- never be free of some sense of judgment and of what lies ahead.
- never be freed from a sense of false security.
The consequences of surrendering to Christ are, of course, the very opposite of the above.
Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved (1 Cor. 10:33).
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