28 February, 2014

Following Christ WILL Cost You

Recently I had an exchange on Facebook with an old friend from high school where she took exception to my making a comment about the agenda of the gay community and Hollywood to try to force us all to accept the gay lifestyle as normal. I'm not talking about tolerance. They want us all to say that it is perfectly normal and that it is perfectly fine to be gay. It's not. This is why they used to be called "queer." Ironically, while it is not politically correct to call a gay person "queer" today, they will call themselves and others in their community queer" and it is just fine. Look up the word "queer" in the dictionary and as synonyms you will find, " odd, strange, unusual, peculiar, bizarre, weird, freakish, unnatural." This is how many in the gay community identify themselves, yet the rest of us are labeled "intolerant" or "haters" if we dare view them the same. Now THAT is the very definition of hypocrisy! 

Anyway, I'm not really writing about that today, but this is the launching pad for my topic. My friend of more than 30 years sent me a private message on Facebook (even though I had asked her to meet me face to face to talk) and said that if I could not agree with her then she did not need people like me in her life and that she never wanted to speak to me again. Several other "friends" also turned on me and said that they were ending our friendship. I told some of them that while I hated to see them make such a step, so be it, because my walk with Christ and obedience to His Word meant more to me than their friendship. Some of them have become very angry with me over this stand and told me that I was taking my "religion" too far. The sad thing is, what they are saying is really the thinking or understanding of so many in the Christian church. It is not a matter of simple choice, it is a matter of obedience to Christ and His Word, and for me, nothing else is more important. Another of my friends sent me several private messages back and forth telling me that I was breaking her heart because she could not believe that I'd turn my back on a friend. I reminded her that I never turned my back on anyone. I said that I had been a friend to this woman for three decades, and loved her even if I did not agree with her. I told her that it was my friend who said, "if you can't agree with me, we can't be friends." In effect, she was telling me to turn away from Scripture or she was writing me off. She made the decision, not me.

Since that time, I've given a lot of thought, not about this exact situation, but I've been thinking about how so many in the church are willing to turn their back on Scripture and Christ in favor of friends, family and situations. People have twisted the Scripture to meet their needs. Much of this has come from the false message being preached in so many churches that "salvation is free."  OK... in a sense it is. But at the same time it is not. There are those who go to the other extreme and preach/teach a works based salvation. That is wrong as wrong can be. But so too is the opposite is just as wrong. Jesus very clearly said that we are to "count the cost" to see if we can follow him. He made is crystal clear that if we are going to follow him, we die to ourselves and surrender our will to his will. But that is not a popular doctrine, so very few preach it any more. 

Let's take a look at what Jesus said, this is from the Contemporary English Version (CEV) for clarity, but you can read it in any translation and the message only gets stronger. In fact, in most translations it reads that we must "hate" our father, mother and so on.
Luke 14:25-27
25 Large crowds were walking along with Jesus, when he turned and said:
26 You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life.
27 You cannot be my disciple unless you carry your own cross and come with me.
28 Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. What is the first thing you will do? Won’t you sit down and figure out how much it will cost and if you have enough money to pay for it? 
29 Otherwise, you will start building the tower, but not be able to finish. Then everyone who sees what is happening will laugh at you. 
30 They will say, “You started building, but could not finish the job.”
31 What will a king do if he has only ten thousand soldiers to defend himself against a king who is about to attack him with twenty thousand soldiers? Before he goes out to battle, won’t he first sit down and decide if he can win? 
32 If he thinks he won’t be able to defend himself, he will send messengers and ask for peace while the other king is still a long way off. 
33 So then, you cannot be my disciple unless you give away everything you own.
34 Salt is good, but if it no longer tastes like salt, how can it be made to taste salty again?

Can that be any more clear? According to Jesus, if forced with a choice, we will choose Christ over anything and everything else in life. It is clear that following Christ is going to cost us something. Today, we've made "salvation" as simple as asking someone if they believe that Jesus is the son of God and do they believe he died for their sin. If they answer "yes" we say, "welcome to the family of God!" I submit to you that if believing those two things makes you saved, then Satan himself is saved!  It is time we get back to the Bible and tell people that if you want to follow Christ, it is going to cost you something. In fact... Following Christ will cost you everything! Coming back to the way I began this entry... it will cost you friends. We each have to make a choice. Do we want popularity? Do we want to be liked? Or do we want to follow Jesus? That passage of scripture begins by mentioning that large crowds were following Jesus. But when he began to speak of following him costing people something, they began to leave him... in droves. What makes us think it will be any different in our lives? 

I hate losing friends. I will miss them. I will continue to pray for them. But I choose Jesus.

1 comment:

Charley said...

I have seen many people in our church lose family and friends when they decided to become a follower of Christ. It is not easy to make that choice, but I have seen the way God has blessed their lives. When someone decides too become a follower we don't just dunk them and say welcome to the kingdom. Before we dunk them we sit down with them and do a bible study with them and one of the studies is counting the cost. I have seen more than a few say goodby too Christ when they learn it may cost them family and friends. But the ones that except that have realized they are welcomed into a much bigger and more loving family than they ever thought possible.