Grace is free but it is never cheap.
When we hear the stories, like the one about the 27-year-old woman had been imprisoned on apostasy and adultery charges, we see the truth of this. According to her lawyer, the case began when one of Ibrahim’s relatives, a Muslim, filed a criminal complaint saying her family was shocked to find out she had married Wani, a Christian. The Sudanese court considered Ibrahim a Muslim because her father was Muslim, but she said she was a Christian and never practiced Islam. She was charged with adultery, because a Muslim woman’s marriage to a Christian man is illegal in Sudan, and with apostasy, accused of illegally renouncing what was alleged to be her original faith. Authorities warned her to renounce Christianity by May 15, but she did not, instead responding that her mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, raised her as a Christian. She said her Sudanese Muslim father abandoned her when she was 6. “I am a Christian,” she said during her sentencing hearing last month,”and I will remain a Christian.” She was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, along with 100 lashes… (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/07/01/sudanese-christian-woman-who-almost-died-for-her-faith-reveals-horrific-experience-giving-birth-in-prison/) for reference
Then the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:34-36 take on flesh and blood:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.
Grace is free but it is not cheap. In such divided households this is a reality. Many times Christians are able to be a witness in these situations, not demanding from their loved ones “a decision for Christ,” because that is never an act of love, rather showing Christ-like love, patience and hope so that maybe through example bringing the unbeliever to faith, maybe without a word spoken.
Other times, sadly, non-believing relatives will demand allegiance and conformity to their way instead of the path of Christ. Then the disciple of Jesus must love Jesus more than father or mother or son or daughter.
The cross of Jesus acts in this very way within families and throughout whole nations. The cross is seen clearly as a dividing line, a line in the sand, that says this far and no farther, over and against the powers of sin, death and the devil. A line between life eternal and death eternal. The call of Christ is an all or nothing call of discipleship. You cannot love money and God, power and God, sin and God, one will always be your God whether it be the true God or not. So yes, the cross of Christ is a sword that divides, not only families, cultures, nations, but the very heart and soul of a person. Making what was dead spiritually alive in Christ. But through stubbornness of heart and soul not everyone wants to follow the way of the cross or respond to the life given in Christ and if the Christian caves in to these pressures, they only end up losing the only real life there is, eternal life with God through Jesus.
What then does this say about grace and how we say it is free. Because it would seem that Grace can cost you everything. Isn’t grace freely given by God through Jesus? Without a doubt. Jesus says, “come to me all you who are thirsty and drink.” But even though grace is freely given can grace ever truly said to be free?
When Jesus calls his disciples, both ancient and modern, he calls them to “Follow Me.” This is not a suggestion, or question, or optional college track. “Follow Me,” spoken by Christ claims absolute authority and claim over a human life. We cannot respond to Jesus and say “maybe next week,” or “when I’m older and I’ve sown my wild ways,” or “okay but…” whatever that but may be. With those words Christ claims us as His own. We can in stubbornness and human pride refuse to be claimed by Christ, try to say of what we have, “mine all mine!” and be like the kings of old who were buried with their treasures, later to be robbed by thieves. Or we can allow Christ to claim us as His own, repent and submit to the free grace of God. That grace, freely given, but will cost you everything.
Grace is free but it is not cheap. When Christ claims you as His own, you now follow Jesus, and in the following of Jesus cast off the attitudes, sins, selfish desires, prideful demands and anything else that sits on the throne of our hearts where Christ belongs. Remember that anything can become an idol and replace God in our hearts. It can be a building, it can be a familiar routine or habit, it can be a way of life, it can be expectations, it can truly be anything if it becomes more important to us than following Jesus.
When we throw these off it costs us. Because we like our prideful demands, we want our selfish desires, we all to often want things to be the way WE want them to be.
Ultimately what following Christ costs us, is ourselves and our control, given freely to God to let God be in control. To be a disciple of Jesus means letting go of what we’ve been holding on too.
Think of it this way. When my wife and I were in college, she introduced me to indoor rock climbing, I had never done anything like that before and I wasn’t really interested in trying until this pretty blonde girl asked me to. I was at the top of the wall and it was my first time belaying down with the rope and Shiloh kept yelling at me to let go of the wall, she had me. (I didn’t believe her) You’ll have to ask her, but I think we had this back and forth discussion of “let go,” and “are you nuts?!” for a half-hour, obviously not impressing the cute blonde girl by this point. Till I finally let go and I fell, I saw my life flash before my eyes, and then, you know what, she had me, I didn’t smash into ground but instead I found a whole new world and my wife in the process.
Being a disciple of Jesus means losing our selves to gain more fully, who we were always meant to be. Letting go of what we are comfortable with and with what we want all for the sake of what God wants, which is by far better than anything we might be holding on to right now.
Grace is free but it is not cheap. When we realize that all that we have is a hope and a prayer as we freefall through this life, abandoning what we left behind, relying on the grace of God alone; we find we have more compassion for those who are in faith, freefalling with us. Because this thing we call faith, this following Christ, this letting go and letting God, ain’t easy. It’s scary. We can feel and become isolated from family members and friends that don’t share the same hope we do. We can lose heart and just simply want to hold on to what is familiar instead of letting God be in control. It can be tough, and if it’s not tough, if the Christian life has become easy, than we still have things we are holding on too that we like better than God. We will not live this Christian life perfectly but it doesn’t mean we stop striving for the goal.
What all that means is that we have brothers and sisters in Christ who are trying with all of their heart to follow Jesus and they’re just as scared and just as tempted to hold on instead of letting go, like everyone else is. We have a choice. Either we can be like the rest of this hurtful world and be one more person telling them that their not doing it right and their messing it up or we can grab their hand, squeeze tight and freefall in faith together.
That is why Jesus said, Jesus said, “whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because they are a disciple, truly, I say to you, you will by no means lose your reward.” (Matt 10:42 paraphrased)
Even this will cost you, but grace is it not cheap and it will cost you everything, but don’t be afraid because God has already given you everything in Jesus.