2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
I have a new guilty pleasure. A friend recommended that I try the grocery pickup service. Each week I make a list for the coming week of all the food and household items needed for the coming week. On Thursday or Friday, after work I make my way to the store and spend one to two hours filling the cart with everything on my list and everything else that catches my eye. After making my purchase, I push the overflowing cart to the car and proceed to unload the haul. Get a ten-minute rest on the drive home, unload it all again, and begin putting everything away. Sigh. Well not anymore… I tried the online grocery ordering. Walking through the house filling the cart based on the contents of the fridge and pantry, I asked everyone if they needed anything adding those items, too. Finally, with a huge intake of breath, I pressed submit order choosing a time for pickup. Using location services on my phone, the associate tracked my progress to the store. I parked in the designated delivery zone and a gentleman walked out with my purchases. He showed me substitutions and had me sign for them. The entire exchange took about five whole minutes and to top it all off it saved me a great deal of money on wasteful impulse shopping. Currently, the program does not charge a fee for this service. But if they do, I would probably still use them because considering the cost of my time and energy – it is totally worth it!
I have shared my experience with friends. Many scrutinize and question the quality like “what about produce” or “what if the bread is not soft”. The store offers full refunds if you are not full satisfied with your order. You can request no substitutions on items out of stock. Other people decide they are just not that “organized” etc. What is right for me is not for everyone. There are some things I would rather select for myself and pop into the fancy grocer to pick up these items using a whopping five or ten whole minutes. We must consider the cost of our everyday choices in all areas of life to decide how to budget our time, energy and resources including our new life in Jesus Christ. It will cost something – every choice has a consideration, consequence and cost. My bananas were slightly yellower and a little bruised this time but they doubled another item. Did I decide to stop using the grocery pickup service? Absolutely not!
“Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
Reconciliation of our life to the one Christ has given us is a personal choice. It means to bring into agreement and harmony or make compatible and consistent. It requires change. There are some who know Jesus but choose to use their freedom to satisfy their flesh. Even the demons know Jesus and tremble, so it is the same with people. They know of Him but do not live in a relationship with Him. Each day mercy greets us at the door and grace is given to us to make it through the day. In fact, when we choose to live in the love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ reconciling the details of our life to His Word, Will and Way – there is new growth potential in our pursuit of God’s Best.
We decide if the cost of our life is too great to follow Jesus. Those who desire to reconcile their life to Jesus will have to be ready for change. Jesus does not change. Like Father God, He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. The Bible says that the Word of God will not return to Him void. Jesus is the Word. With this in mind, we must count the cost of discipleship. There were only twelve original disciples and they did not all make it to the Cross, see the tomb or experience the resurrection of Jesus. To give one’s life is the bearing of our soul and allowing the Lord to mold and shape our life according to His Plan and Purpose and release its full potential. But you will never be forced to do so. Reconciliation to Christ is a choice. We must consider the cost.
Luke 14:26-33 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.
And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.”
“Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
The cost of discipleship is not required of all. You are not required to be a “disciple” of Jesus Christ. John 8 tells us that the Truth sets you free. The Word is Truth. Jesus is the Word. It also tells us that whoever the Son sets free is free indeed which means you don’t have to choose to live for God or His Kingdom. It is up to you. But if you do not pay the price – you do not make the purchase. Jesus died for you. He went to hell and took back your life for you. He hands it over to you and allows you to decide how to live it. Those who desire a relationship with Jesus Christ will reconcile their life to Him and those who do not will use their freedom as they choose. However, if you desire the Kingdom and all that it has to offer – the only choice is discipleship. Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He gives us access to the Father. We must only give our life to Him.
Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT) “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”
“Discipleship can tolerate no conditions which might come between Jesus and our obedience to him.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
What does the Kingdom of Heaven have to offer you today? Have you thought about it? There is a natural designation between Heaven and earth. Humanity considers today where we live and eternity where one resides after death. Like Martha when Jesus came to awaken Lazarus, our heart wants to believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and Life for today but logic tells us that He is our eternal hope that new life is not an everyday happening. The Lord will be the Resurrection and Life to those who believe and have faith for today not fully invested in forever. We must believe that God is a Living God and that we live in the Presence of God or Heaven on earth today. The realm of hope is not restricted to the next breath after death. It is for everyday life as well.
The price paid to know the Living God today requires a purchase. The more expensive the item the more careful the consideration. The investment of entire life is probably the most valuable of all. What will you lay down your life and everything you own for? That is your treasure. The mouth speaks from the abundance of your heart. What do you talk about? What do you dream of? What is your greatest desire? What fuels your passion? What are you pursuing? Be careful in your consideration. The heart is fickle and our mind plays tricks on us. We can believe one thing but live completely to the contrary. Until our heart, mind and mouth agree, life will be plagued with cyclic frustration. We must live what we believe. We must decide what we will give our life for. The man found a treasure worth having so he sold everything to own it. The merchant found a choice pearl. When he discovered its value and worth, he sold everything and bought it. I wonder if maybe we do not see the value and worth of reconciling our whole life to Christ so we give Him bits and pieces waiting and praying for a full return. The man who bought the field was given a price. He decided it was worth it and paid it. The pearl was appraised and deemed quite valuable. The merchant considered its price and the possible yield on his return so he invested fully to own it. How important is God’s Kingdom on earth to you? Is it worth it? Is it worth it all?
Luke 15:8-10 (NLT) “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
The economy of Heaven and wealth of the Kingdom is souls. Human souls are what the Lord desires. He yearns for His Beloved Children to all return home. God gave His Son to make a way for our return to His Home. He searches high and low. He will stop at nothing to give us eternal life. In the meantime, He gives us faith to obtain blessings and promises that benefit our life now. Here. In the land of the living. God loves unconditionally and grace is always enough. I must decide if I will pay the price and count the cost of travel from the natural to the supernatural. Like a business venture or any other investment, I must decide if it will be worth it. A half-hearted investment will not give a full bodied return.
Matthew 6:33 (NLT) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
And live righteously… These words are often misinterpreted. Righteousness is provided by Jesus Christ. To live in Christ is to maintain right standing with God. It is not a religious endeavor. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve salvation or the Favor of God in my life. My flesh and pride so would like to though for this is how they can stay alive. Jesus has promised a new life to those who live reconciled to Him. This is the life of discipleship. To put all of our life in studying, following and imitating Christ. To seek the Kingdom first above all else is reflected in our choices. What a man sows He reaps. Sow Kingdom seeds and bear Fruit of His Spirit. To live all in opens the windows and doors of Heaven in our life. It comes at a price. It means that I must relinquish my rights and step fully into righteousness. I must lose my life to find it. I have to lose my life in Jesus. God is not calling us to suffer for Jesus Christ. He is asking for our soul. As our soul prospers, our natural life will be impacted Heaven’s Economy. You cannot experience Heaven on earth living in your present condition. Repentance and reconciliation to Jesus every single minute of every single day changes us forever into the new creation that Jesus promised. Nothing ventured nothing gained. I am all in today. I want all that His Kingdom has for me. I have decided to follow Jesus! How about you?
Mark 8:36 (NLT) And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?
Discipline says, “I need to.” Duty says, “I ought to.” Devotion says, “I want to.” (Adrian Rogers)