Many people have all been blessed with many material possessions in America and many have been blessed to be raised in a home where we are brought to church on Sunday mornings. But this can be a detrament to our ugency to "go and make disciples" in the world. If we understood the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man we would respond with the ugency Jesus speaks about in the gospels and we would sacrifice everything, including our pride, to make sure Christ is known. When the value of knowing Christ surpasses the value of self then we will obey Christ and go make disciples.
Paul is a great example of someone willing to surrender his live for the sake of the gospel. His heart was fueled by the surpassing value of Christ. In Philippians 3 he writes, "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (3:8). Maybe you argue, "But Paul did live in America with all it's comforts." That's true. If you are ever tempted to think that way let me show how deadly being an American can be. We have much to be grateful for in America but it is a dangerous place for Christians called to die to self.
Paul in Acts 20 says, "And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisionment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from The Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God" (22-24). Paul went knowing "imprisionment and affliction" awaited him. These were not ideas but realities. Imprisionment and afflictions will await him. I wonder if the comforts of America and the self-esteem message peached daily has sucked the self deniel message of Christ out of us? Many times I've seen in my own life the unwillingness to surrender to Christ's commands wondering what others will think of me if I speak of him. We have been allured away from the message of Christ by the love of ease and comfort. Paul mind set was simple: "To live is Christ, to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21)
What we see many times in the life of the church is what Deitrich Bonhoeffer calls cheap grace. Cheap grace is "grace without a price; grace without cost!" It is intellectual assent of grace. To have our sins justified while continuing to live the life of one not justified. Grace that forgives but doesn't change the sinner. It is a "denial of the living Word of God." Cheap grace has no joyful obedience to Christ.
On the other side of the grace coin is costly grace. Bonhoeffer says, "Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: 'You were bought at a price,' and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us...costly grace is the only pure grace, which really forgives sins and gives freedom to the sinner."
May we not be lured to sleep by our comforts and pursue cheap grace. May we be followers of Christ who count the cost of living a life worthy of the gospel.
Grace upon grace,