Unfinished: Believing is Only the Beginning - Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:16, 21–22)
Food for Thought
If the gospel just requires someone to make a decision, then the Great Commission is about making more deciders, not disciples—it’s about selling more fire insurance policies:
“Therefore go and make deciders of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them that obeying everything I have commanded you is optional. And surely this fire insurance policy will remain in force always, even to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20, changes mine).
Now it’s simple. We don’t have to bother with that part about “make disciples” and “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded.” We can accept Jesus as Savior, but we don’t have to accept him as Lord.
This dumbed-down gospel is a lot easier to swallow than the high-fiber, whole-grain version. It’s a gospel quite comfortable with the status quo. It doesn’t make any demands on our lifestyle or behavior, and it lets us do whatever we want with our money; feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, or taking a stand against injustice in our world—all strictly optional.
If only the disciples had understood this, they surely wouldn’t have had to give their lives for the cause. Why so radical? Selling cheap tickets to eternal life needn’t upset anyone. All they had to do was just simply say “I do.”
There’s only one problem with this gospel; it wasn’t the gospel Jesus preached, and it lacks the power to change the world and win it for Christ. What happened to Jesus’ vision of the kingdom of God coming now, on earth as it is in heaven? What happened to the great mission of Christ to transform human society, model the values of God’s kingdom, make disciples of all nations, love our neighbors, and care for the poor? And what about his assertion that his church would storm the very gates of hell? What happened to the revolution?
Surrendered. That is why it is so very important to get the gospel right, the whole gospel, because without real disciples, the revolution dies.
Question for Reflection
What did Jesus expect of his disciples? What do you think he expects of you?
Jesus, thank you for loving me so much, even in my weakness and sinfulness. Please help me feel a passion to follow you anywhere—and to know what that means for me today.