The cost of salvation
Deciding to follow Jesus is not a matter to be taken lightly.
When God calls, however, we answer.
The Bible says God called on Abraham to leave his family and homeland and go to an unknown place that God would show him. Abraham “faithed” God by going. The Bible also says God called out the children of Abraham from among all the world’s people groups to be his own “special treasure … my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.”
But being God’s special treasure was not a blessing free of expectations. God’s people would be those who walk in his ways:
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? He requires you to fear him, to live according to his will, to love and worship him with all your heart and soul, and to obey the LORD’s commands and laws that I am giving you today for your own good.”
Being God’s people required living according to his will, but walking in God’s ways did not happen automatically.
The prophet Isaiah spoke for the Almighty when he said: “I opened my arms to my own people all day long, but they have rebelled. They follow their own evil paths and thoughts.”
God requires his people to live according to his will, but broken, stubborn people would rather follow their own paths.
That’s where we make our choice – and keep making it.
Jesus was clear about the necessity of taking the narrow road instead of the wide one. The latter is filled with people headed toward destruction. Only a few are willing to trek the hard road that leads to abundant, eternal life.
When large crowds started following Jesus around, he made it clear that following his Way would cost his disciples their lives. Like someone planning a major project, they had to be sure they understood what it would cost and decide they were willing and able to pay the price.
When you commit yourself to God’s Revolution, you make yourself a target for those who are invested in rebellion, self-indulgence, and oppression. Injustice hates those who pursue justice. Jesus told his disciples that he was destined to be executed like a criminal. People in rebellion against God’s ways hated him, and they would hate anyone who aligned themselves with him as well.
Once you choose the narrow road, there is no turning back.
Jesus points to a man plowing his field. The farmer has to keep his eyes fixed forward, so he can plow a straight furrow. He can’t be continually looking back at what he has left behind. In the same way, once we join God in his campaign to restore shalom to the world, we must pursue justice single-mindedly.
It isn’t hard to understand that people who want to walk in the ways of a just God must not participate in evil and oppression. But God expects more of us than simply not doing evil. God requires his people to pursue justice actively and wholeheartedly. Jesus calls us away from self-indulgence and pursuing our own goals. God is King, and his people’s first priority is establishing his justice “on earth, as it is in heaven.”
Followers of Jesus cannot be invested in maintaining their own control, significance, and comfort – no more than a slave can serve two masters. Jesus said: “Anyone who isn’t helping me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.”
Just so you know.
Think about it
In what ways are you following your own paths and thoughts, rather than living God’s way?
What issues would you struggle with if God called you to “go to an unknown place”?
Life on Nairobi’s streets: Oscar’s story
A touching first-person account of being the hands and feet of Jesus to a street kid in Nairobi’s Riverside district. Click here to read more.
Next chapter: ‘Multiply and fill the earth’