Friday, May 15, 2009

The Cost of Following Jesus - For What It's Worth

Have you ever wondered what it was really like for the disciples to follow Jesus? Think about it, you leave your job, you drop everything, and go into full-time ministry. Most people I know, can't just leave their job and house and go into ministry. I also hate to call it ministry, because they actually became friends of Jesus; even Judas. Real ministry flows out of relationship.

Jesus' insight, genuineness, warmth, and His can't-quite-put-my-finger-on-it qualities were some how very attractive. Of course, now we know why, but the disciples, they didn't. They had some sort of religious notion that there would be a messiah, a king greater than David-- one that would rule and reign in Israel, defeating all their foes. Which is true, but the way that God carried it out, well it wasn't what they thought-- not even close. How about you, do you have some sort of religious notion about church, about Jesus?

I could write a hundred things about being religious, and I have. However; today, I want to write about what is costs to follow Jesus. The disciples went from working for a living, to living by faith. They had no idea what was going to happen to Jesus-- I doubt they knew what was going to happen next. The Triumphal Entry must have made them feel amazing, even exhilarated-- and then the crucifixion shortly afterwords. That was one of the prices for Jesus' ministry here on earth-- He is our example. He also became poor, and never married. He put His life in danger more than once. How about you? What is it costing you to follow Jesus?

Certainly at times, the disciples; later apostles, feared for their lives because of their relationship with Jesus, and in some cases suffered persecution, imprisonment and for eleven of the thirteen, death.

For most of the church in today's world, things are different for Christians; they don't fear for their lives. (I don't mean to minimize what goes on in some places in the world. It is heinous)

I think the love of mammon and the love of God are very similar. We look to both to provide for us, protect us, keep us healthy, provide for leisure (happiness) and give us some sense of worth. Money and things can do that. The difference is what it costs us in terms of tension, as we try to insure and protect our wealth. One weighs us down, the other lifts us up. Where are your treasures?

But what about you? What has serving Jesus cost you? Money, prosperity and materialism can certainly come between us and God. But there is a much deeper cost to serving Him. What would you do to have an all expenses paid mission trip to Brazil. Out of the blue, a man at church writes you a check for $1000, and the church sends you off with a powerful time of prayer? Most folks could probably do that pretty easily. I know I did. But what if you came home to find you were laid-off from work, or lost a parent to an unexpected illness? I have experienced both.... and I am no martyr, not even close. I am just your average Christian going though my days trying to make a difference for the kingdom.

I took another trip to Europe and received a call from my kids with an emergency, there was nothing I could do. Even Paul was buffeted by the Devil. It is part of the cost of following Christ. In some ways, it is easiest to say it this way, "you trust Him or you don't." I didn't at the time.

Luke 14:28 "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it--"

There is so much more to the cost of following Christ-- we forsake all that we have, all that we are, and all that we own. As followers Christ there is always the possibility for losing our earthly treasures-- but there is for those that don't follow Christ. Paul also said that they could take our life, and that to, would be glorious. I have some friends that were missionaries in Indochina. They expected to lose their lives for Christ at some point, yet they pressed on preaching the gospel in Communist countries. They often prayed, "Lord we give it all to You, but could you spare us the torture please."

The cost of serving Christ is greatest when we have a lot of earthy possessions to lose. When our treasures are stored up in Heaven (Matt. 6:19-21), we can do all that we are asked by the Master without fear. The less we have to lose, the more valuable we are to the work of the Kingdom.

As I was writing this blog I was reminded of a story about a little girl. I believe it was in the book, Intimacy Cover Up. Her Father loved her so, and took her on outings; just the two of them. He bought her little gifts, but she especially loved her sting of "princess" pearls. Of course they were only plastic, but she loved them so.

He father saw how much she loved them, and decided to buy her real pearls-- for she so treasured the plastic ones he was certain that she would take care of them. One evening he looked at her while she lay in bed waiting for her goodnight kiss. In his pocket was a string of beautiful pearls in a velvet jewelry box. But when he asked her for her plastic pearls, she said emphatically "No, I love my pearls, Daddy! But you can have my purple pony." Her father kissed her good night as he always did, and left the room.

He returned the next night and asked her the same question. She was confused, "I love my pearls Daddy, but you can have my dolly." Each night her father would come into the room to kiss her good night, and ask her if she was ready to let him have her treasured plastic pearls.

One night he came in to say good night, and she was sitting up in the bed crying. In her hand she clutched her beloved plastic pearls. "Here Daddy, you can have them." He placed them in his pocket, and caressed her face as she sobbed. Finally, from his pocket he withdrew that little velvet box, and with delight, he watched her open it. "Oh Daddy, they are beautiful!"

He lovingly looked at her and said, "I have been longing to give you these."

5 comments:

photogr said...

Loving the Father and giving up your prized possession can reward you with untold riches as I believe this story represents.

Worshiping money and all that it can buy cannot give you the grace, peace, and serenity that one needs to find true happiness. Been there done that. In retirement, I have substantionally less money but have more wealth and happiness than I could ever imagine. You can't put a price on that at all.

Once one has professed to become a Jesus Freak as some say, one might see less of the old friends. However, they may not have been a friend at all so there is no loss. New friends that share the same faith are waiting to be found and will accept you openly for what you are.

My biggest fear is if ever persecuted for my faith as in Jesus time could I hold true to Jesus as the Apostles did? I pray that I will never have to face that tribulation.

Tevet said...

Another great read, David.

"I also hate to call it ministry, because they actually became friends of Jesus; even Judas. Real ministry flows out of relationship."Awesome! A very simple concept that gets lost within the church today.

photogr said...

Dave:

I have a question. Have you ever heard of the "Q" scriptures in Mathew and Mark from an ancient Hebrew text?

The verbage and wording in those text are similar but different than what you will normally find in the current New Testament Bibles. I read a book by Brisco on the "Jesus Dynasty" in which he alluded several pages through out his book to this issue and seemed quite excited over it.

Altough mostly a Historian point of veiw by Brisco, One can only wonder of it's ramnifications.

David said...

Yes, I have heard of them.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/gosp_q1.htm

As Christians, we need to decide what principals we will stand on. Most of the "gospels" not included in the Bible tend to paint Jesus in the a light other than the Son of God who, is God.

Christianity is not meant to be history, no it is His Story. It is spirit, not intellect or words on page, but life for the dead, and hope for the weary.

photogr said...

Thanks Dave.

If you are refering to the Gnostic Scriptures or the Dead Sea Scrolls, I heartily agree that it tends to marginalize Jesus and His teachings. That I am not looking to do.

Being a student and learning, I can only ask those who are more advanced in knowledge thus you were the most likely candidate.

I pray you are doing well.

Larry

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