Someone Worth Losing Everything For
- Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Now, remember what was on the left: "First Baptist Church Celebrates New $23 Million Building." On the right the article said, "Baptists have raised $5,000 to send to refugees in western Sudan."
Five thousand dollars.
That is not enough to get a plane into Sudan, much less one drop of water to people who need it.
Twenty-three million dollars for an elaborate sanctuary and five thousand dollars for hundreds of thousands of starving men, women, and children, most of whom were dying apart from faith in Christ.
Where have we gone wrong?
How did we get to the place where this is actually tolerable?
Indeed, the cost of nondiscipleship is great.The cost of believers not taking Jesus seriously is vast for those who don't know Christ and devastating for those who are starving and suffering around the world. But the cost of nondiscipleship is not paid solely by them. It is paid by us as well.
A Call to Treasure
Did you catch what Jesus said when he told the richman to abandon his possessions and give to the poor? Listen again, particularly to the second half of Jesus' invitation: "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven."12 If we are not careful, we can misconstrue these radical statements from Jesus in the Gospels and begin to think that he does not want the best for us. But he does. Jesus was not trying to strip this man of all his pleasure. Instead he was offering him the satisfaction of eternal treasure. Jesus was saying, "It will be better, not just for the poor, but for you too, when you abandon the stuff you are holding on to."
We see the same thing over in Matthew 13. There Jesus tells his disciples, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."13
I love this picture. Imagine walking in a field and stumbling upon a treasure that is more valuable than anything else you could work for or find in this life. It is more valuable than all you have now or will ever have in the future.
You look around and notice that no one else realizes the treasure is here, so you cover it up quickly and walk away, pretending you haven't seen anything. You go into town and begin to sell off all your possessions to have enough money to buy that field. The world thinks you're crazy. "What are you thinking?" your friends and family ask you.
You tell them, "I'm buying that field over there."
They look at you in disbelief. "That's a ridiculous investment," they say. "Why are you giving away everything you have?"
You respond, "I have a hunch," and you smile to yourself as you walk away.
You smile because you know. You know that in the end you are not really giving away anything at all. Instead you are gaining. Yes, you are abandoning everything you have, but you are also gaining more than you could have in any other way. So with joy—with joy!—you sell it all, you abandon it all. Why? Because you have found something worth losing everything else for.
This is the picture of Jesus in the gospel. He is something—someone—worth losing everything for. And if we walk away from the Jesus of the gospel, we walk away from eternal riches. The cost of nondiscipleship is profoundly greater for us than the cost of discipleship. For when we abandon the trinkets of this world and respond to the radical invitation of Jesus, we discover the infinite treasure of knowing and experiencing him.
Is He Worth It?
This brings us to the crucial question for every professing or potential follower of Jesus: Do we really believe he is worth abandoning everything for? Do you and I really believe that Jesus is so good, so satisfying, and so rewarding that we will leave all we have and all we own and all we are in order to find our fullness in him? Do you and I believe himenough to obey himand to follow him wherever he leads, even when the crowds in our culture—and maybe in our churches—turn the other way?
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