People love it when you talk about the grace of Jesus. They love to hear that God so loved the world that He gave Jesus so that we can have eternal life through Him.
John 3:16 (NLT) “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
But they get upset when the realize that Jesus asks for everything. It’s true that you don’t have to give up anything in order to receive salvation. All it takes to receive it is to believe that Jesus is God’s Son and that He came to the earth, gave His life for your sin, was buried, rose on the third day, and is now in heaven with God the Father.
Romans 10:9-10 (NLT)9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
That’s salvation. However once saved Jesus does ask that you give up something and that something is your life...everything. It shouldn’t be a surprise it’s not like Jesus didn’t give you a “heads up”
When people asked Jesus what they had to do to become one of His followers He told them what they needed to do.
Matthew 19:21 (NLT) Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Mark 10:21 (NLT) Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Luke 14:25-26 (NLT)25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them,26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.
Luke 18:22 (NLT) When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
They thought that Jesus had no right to ask for everything from them. To put their whole lives, desires, and passions at His feet.
They all liked Jesus up until then. He heals, he blesses, feeds them, finds money in the mouth or a fish. What a guy. Then all of a sudden He says if you want to follow Me and continue to be a part of this you have to give up everything, and give Me your total allegiance. That’s when folk start leaving. It’s great to get stuff but not so good to give, especially if it's everything.
How dare He. Who does He think He is?
We All Worship Something And That Something Asks For Everything
One of the definitions for worship is to to love or honor (someone or something) very much or too much. Whenever you give a lot of attention to anything you are really worshiping that thing. Those things ask for your life. For your all. For every last drop of your allegiance. Power does. Sexual fulfillment does. Athletics do. Your spouse does. Your significant other does. Your job does.
These and the other things that we worship ask us to give up everything. They use fear, false promises, and force to get us to give up everything. When Jesus asks us to give up everything it’s only after He gave up everything first. He gave His life before asking for yours. When He asks there’s no force, no false promises, just His love.
Romans 5:8 (NLT) But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
1 John 3:16 (NLT) We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.
He gives love so great that it compels us to lay down our lives in return.
Romans 12:1 (NLT)1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
Some of us would rather settle for less because we don’t think we have to give up anything. Well think again.
Everybody Worships Something
If that someone or something you worship isn’t God then it’s an idol, and the worship is idolatry.
Here’s what the Bible says about idols.
Psalm 115:4-8 (NLT)4 Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands.5 They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see.6 They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell.7 They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound.
8 And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.
In other words they have no power to do anything for you even though the ask for your everything in worship. The only power that an idol has is the power that you the worshiper gives it.
You can’t count on an idol no matter what it is; a person, alcohol, sex, anything — they all make for cruel gods. When the effects of the alcohol or the euphoria of sex wears off, or that person upsets you, your emotions bounce up and down like a basketball. God is constant. Always forgiving. Always loving. Never changing.
Numbers 23:19 (NKJV) 19 "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV) 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
When we make another person an idol, we end up squeezing the life out of them. Only one person has the ability to sustain being God, and that’s Jesus.
When we worship Jesus, we can love that person even more because our center isn’t tied to or defined by them. If they upset us, rather than affecting us negatively every time, we can give back love, grace, and forgiveness because our self-worth comes from God.
Idols need to be defended. When they don’t bless us, or show us love, or prosper us then we have to defend them. We have to rationalize why they did come through for us. But Jesus doesn’t need defending. He never defended Himself but gave Himself as an offering and in the process defeated evil (in a moment when everyone thought evil had won!).
Charles Spurgeon said: “The Gospel is like a caged lion. It does not need to be defended, it just needs to be let out of its cage.” The mystery of Jesus is just like the mystery in Revelation 5. He’s called the Lion of Judah, but when John looks, he sees a lamb slaughtered. Jesus is a powerful, victorious lion who achieved that victory by the act of the lamb who was slain.
The only one who deserves our everything is the one who gave everything. He his the only one worthy of our worship.
Just like the creatures around the throne we should give our everything, worship the Lamb who gave His everything, and sing His praise:
Revelation 5:11-14 (NLT)11 Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders.12 And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered— to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”13 And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”14 And the four living beings said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.
Some excerpts from It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke.
This blog is for you! If you have any questions or topics you would like me to address please use the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.