Monday, February 25, 2013

Living the Cost

Many times people talk about what they want out of life. They talk about what life can give them, in the short amount of time spent here on earth. Yet, so many times people forget, or more likely, choose to never even consider what they can give to this life. Jesus talks about this very issue in the book of Matthew.
"Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" (Matthew 16:24-26 ESV)
This is a snapshot of what it is like to follow Christ. We are not called to gain the biggest pile of possessions while here on earth, but rather to reach out to those around us with love and grace. So many people look at life as our one chance to be happy, and therefore miss what life is truly about. Life isn't about the stuff we gain, the stuff we lose, or the positions we hold. However, it is about bringing the beauty and glory of Christ to a world in need of great healing. When we die, we won't be bringing our mounds of material possessions with us, in fact not even the clothes that we are buried in will be ours. Rather, we will then be able to truly see what it was all about.
There are many people that think that this life is it, that there isn't another thing worth living for or working towards. I would argue the opposite. We see in the Bible the many different ways that Jesus portrayed this idea while on the earth. He did not merely go through the steps and finish his earthly life without working towards a goal. No, he lived out his whole life for one purpose: to bring salvation and forgiveness to the world, by bringing glory to his name. As his disciples we are called to the same purpose. We are to preach the gospel, the truth of God with conviction and power to those who are in need of salvation and grace. Just as the apostle Peter, along with the other apostles, was arrested in the book of Acts for preaching the name of Jesus, so should we. Not that our goal should be to get arrested by the authorities, but rather that our goal should be to continually preach the gospel in a manner that causes the name of Christ to be heard and experienced. In our preaching/declaring of God's goodness, we will be despised, just as he and every one of his disciples have been throughout the ages. It is when we are not despised that we should have cause for concern. For Jesus told us that we would be hated and despised because of him.
By taking up our cross every day, and being willing to lay down our desires in order to see and experience the kingdom of God being brought about in our world we gain a deeper and more rich understanding of the blessing and mercy of God. He tells us that we will have nothing to fear and that he will always care for us. Many people take this to mean that they will never have any need or want in this life. This could not be further from the truth. Jesus tells us that he will care for us and never forsake us, not that he will spoil us and cause us to forget him. Rather, each and every day we need to see and be thankful for each and every blessing that we are given.