The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Count the Cost – Light and Blood

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” - 1 John 1:7


Being a Christian is a blessed life. But that should not be interpreted to mean it is an easy life. There is a cost that comes with life in Christ. That is especially true in our day and age. In our day being a Christian means there is a target on your back. And there are a lot of people shooting arrows at that target. There is a cost to consider that concerns an enemy from outside the church. But there is another cost to consider. There is a cost that concerns serving in and through the church.

Jesus told people interested in being His disciples that they needed to count the cost. “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:23-26).  Put “self” aside. Pick up your cross; a symbol of shame and execution; sacrifice. And follow Jesus and His set of eternal priorities; something very different from what we are used to in the world and past life of sin.

Jesus has to be first in our life. He has to truly be our “Lord.” It’s expensive to follow Jesus as His disciple. We need to count the cost. Jesus illustrated this “cost” with illustration when He said: “Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. 34 “Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Luke 14:25-35). Are you listening? The “great multitudes” that followed Jesus thinned out when He began to speak of the cost of following Him. The bottom line powerful statement of Jesus here is, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciples.” Think about what that means. “All” in the original Greek language means all. It means hating anything and everyone in comparison to serving Jesus. There can be no challengers to the reign and calling of Jesus in our heart, mind and life. Yes, think about that.

Sometimes we impress ourselves and maybe even try to impress others with what we give. But our prime concern should be with whether or not we impress Jesus. Jesus looked at quality more than quantity. He looked at “all” as being more important than “some,” even if the “some” someone gave was more than the “all” of another. We see this in Jesus observation of a poor widow who put a meager penny in the offering plate. Others gave much more quantitatively, but she gave “all” and that was more pleasing to Jesus than a greater number amount (cf. Luke 21:1-4). What are you giving? All?

Jesus has blessed us in so many ways. We need to hold what He has provided with open hands. We need to be ready and open to what He asks of us. We are not our own. We belong to Him. He purchased us with His blood. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The precious blood of Jesus; that’s what Jesus spent for us. Our only reasonable response to what Jesus has done for us is to present ourselves before God in full surrender and be ready to give what He directs us to give, even if that means “all.”

Following Jesus is costly. He calls us to be His disciples. A disciple is obedient to Jesus’ words (cf. Mat. 28:18-20). We don’t have enough in our spiritual bank to follow the Lord or pay the cost required. We cannot follow Jesus in our own strength. We need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. We need the Spirit poured out in us (Rom. 5:5). We need His empowerment (Acts 1 and 2). And for that there is also a cost.

If we want to be empowered to follow Jesus, if we want the currency to pay the cost, then we will have to lay down our petty resentments, jealousies, bitterness and dislikes. We will have to even surrender our emotional and physical scars to the Lord. If we want the Spirit’s infilling and power we have to be “one accord” in heart, vision and mission for what God wants to do in and through us. When we look in Acts and the times the Spirit powerfully baptized the disciples of Jesus one thing is very clear; they were of “one accord”  (e.g. Acts 1:14; 2:1, 46; 4:24; 5:12; 8:6; 15:25). They laid down their lives, including their prejudices, dissimilarities and dissensions. Those powerfully used disciples of Acts laid down their lives for Jesus and that meant they laid down their lives for each other (e.g. Acts 2:40-47). On Pentecost those empowered for service by the Holy Spirit were together of “one accord.” We need to come together like that if we would fulfill the vision mission of Christ.

The light of God’s truth is that Jesus gave His precious blood to redeem and cleanse us sinners from our sin (1 Pet. 1:18-19). If we are to follow in His steps (1 Pet. 2:21) and walk as He walked (1 John 2:6), if we are to be conformed to His likeness (Rom. 8:29), then we too will have to shed blood. That which is done for God always requires blood. That was true of Old Testament sacrifices (Exodus 12:22; 30:10). That is also true of   New Testament living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1-2).

“And they overcame  him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Rev. 12:11).  Implementing God’s vision and will in our particular parts of the world where God has sovereignly placed us will indeed cost us. We need to ask ourselves, "Am I willing to shed blood to see God’s will come to pass?” If we are, I believe God will do great things through us for His glory. 

Light and blood, that is what it means to count the cost. The apostle John was inspired to write,  “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). “But if,” speaks of a choice we must make; a decision to be made. God is calling us to make a decision. “We,” speaks of a united effort. Will we unite to work out God’s vision for us and His perfect will? “Walk in the light,” speaks of the light of God’s truth and our obedient good works that reflect on and glorify our Lord (compare Mat. 5:16). “As He is in the light,” speaks of the Lordship of Jesus. We follow His light; we walk and work the way Jesus would. “We have fellowship with one another,” speaks of the unifying and increase to the body of Christ God’s venture of faith leads to. “And the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin,” speaks of the example of Jesus shed blood and His call to be willing to shed our blood too for His glory as He conforms us to the likeness of Himself.

Count the cost; its light and blood. The light of God’s word to live by in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the shedding of our blood in living by His word. Look around you, there is a clear contrast between God’s light of truth and the world’s darkness of falsehood. And arguably never before has it been more important that in the power of the Spirit we present ourselves as living sacrifices ready to shed our blood for Jesus to fulfill His vision and will in our world today. Will you answer that call? Light and blood; will you answer that call?


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