What if I offered you something valuable – for free? You’d ask, “What’s the catch?” There’s usually some catch. It’s free if you buy something else. It’s free if you subscribe to a trial membership. It’s free if you just listen to a 45 minute presentation (that really lasts much longer). It seems like when something is free there’s always a catch.
So how do we respond when we’re told our eternal salvation is a free gift? In fact, you can’t buy it, trade for it, earn it or learn it. It’s a free gift from God for all who believe in His Son Jesus as the Lord and Savior of their life. Wait. Is that the catch? I mean, when I first came to realize in my mind and heart who Jesus really is, that didn’t seem like a catch. It was (and is) the real deal, like free food that tastes good and satisfies your hunger and a cool drink that quenches parched lips.
God’s gift of grace is free but it’s not cheap. Being a disciple of Jesus comes at a cost.
Jesus says “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38) Wait. Doesn’t Christianity value and honor families? Yes, of course. We love our kids and grandchildren. We’d do anything for them. I know you feel the same about your family. But if our parents, children, or grandchildren become more valuable to us than Jesus, He says we can’t follow Him. (The truth is we can’t love them best without Him!)
It doesn’t seem right or fair. When parents and grandparents devote their lives to teaching their children to love and honor God, they are in fact raising up the next generation church. It’s a hard teaching that about the roots of sin in idolatry. God says anything we put between us and him is an idol – even family. Is your family an idol? It may be if you find yourself saying, “I’d answer God’s call except for my kids.” A man said he would follow Jesus but first had to bury his father. Jesus recognized the man’s tendency to find excuses and wouldn’t have anything of it. Jesus loves children, and families. But He draws a line of distinction when it comes to loving and honoring God.
The gift is free but it really does come with a cost. Some think the cost is too great. Really it is too small. What is the cost to you? Do you really want to follow Jesus? Act as if Jesus meant what he said:
“Pick up your cross and follow me.”