American Christianity is something distinctly American, not necessarily biblical. A true Christian walk cuts across all societal expectations. In reality, true biblical Christianity is antithetical to everything the world says and everything welling up from within my own heart. Because of this, biblical Christianity is uncomfortable to practice because it forces me outside of my expectations for myself and my own comfort zone. It is also uncomfortable to be around because it zealously and uncompromisingly seeks to have others walk according to biblical Christianity. The call to be a Christian is the call to abandon my own expectations regarding what a Christian ought to look like because my expectations are ultimately half-baked.
In Chapel on Friday, Dr. Mark Tatlock posed the question “What does it look like to live out the kingdom of God?” This is a topic the RAs/SLS Staff has been studying in detail for the last four weeks. Tat’s message in Chapel was merely a summary of four weeks of material, but it was rich in the mercy and grace of God and made me think.
The call to be a Christian is a call to die. This phrase is so overused that it really has lost much of its impact. In America the “death” we die consists of being thought foolish by our neighbors, friends, family. In the Bible, the “death” spoken of consists of much more. Read Hebrews 11 or the book of Acts. Men and women have been fed to the lions in front of crowds rejoicing over the gruesome slaughterer of Christians. Why were these men and women willing to do this? Because they understood what a call to die entails.
According to Jesus, the holy life and the forgiven life are the same thing. I cannot accept Christ now and then fully surrender to Him when it is convenient for me. No, you are either all in or all out. Salvation is a blue pill/red pill decision. You are either sold-out for Christ—whatever that may entail—or damned to hell. Take your pick. Tat called American Christianity “In-N-Out Theology.” So often we look at the menu of the Christian life and pick what we like based on taste and price. Jesus Christ presents the exact opposite: “In-Or-Out Theology.” You are all in or all out. Take your pick.
Everything begins with total surrender. Without total surrender, the Christian life will not make sense, for only those who have taken that leap of faith and renounced all claim to their lives can understand what it means to be free. This is completely antithetical to any conventional human wisdom. But the Bible says freedom is found in surrender. Matthew 6 lays this principle out, climaxing in verse 25. Because you are focused on my kingdom, because you have sold everything to buy the treasure, because you have ceased to serve mammon, because you are serving me rather than men and their opinions, do not be worried of life, clothing, food, the things of this world. Commit to me and I will take care of you.
Without completely surrendering to the Savior, I am completely consumed by my needs. My life consists of trying to protect and provide for myself. Jesus Christ says He will take care of everything I live my life for as an unbeliever, freeing me up to do so much more than care for myself. I have time and energy for things other than trying to protect myself because Jesus Christ is protecting me. His protection is not necessarily physical (Heb 11), but I am utterly incapable of protecting myself physically either.
The cost of joining this kingdom is everything. There is no such thing as a half-hearted pursuit of Christ. The cost of establishing the kingdom was so high that nothing could ever merit entrance into the kingdom. Jesus Christ demands your life. Selling everything to gain entrance into the kingdom is worth it because of the splendor of the King. Praise God for His mercy and grace which takes men and unveils their eyes to see how much better the kingdom is than life itself. Never ever forget that the only reason men are inside the kingdom is because the King was willing to sacrifice His Son for people who-to their own destruction-didn’t want to come into the kingdom.
These are the stakes of the Christian life. History tells us the potential cost of being a Christian in the past. The world around us confirms that the cost has not decreased in 2,000 years. Accepting Christ and renouncing all control over your life means one thing: You’ve wagered your life for the cause of Christ. Nothing less will do.
I suppose this post is pretty intense. It is simply a different vantage point looking upon the glory of salvation. I’ve talked and written much about the glory and joy of salvation. Of how it is the incredible act of a loving God to rescue men from destruction–men who neither know the coming destruction nor care to escape it. God’s love is spectacular. Salvation restructures every priority I have so that I might live in line with God’s created purpose for mankind. Salvation allows me to glorify God by praising Him for His goodness and mercy. A subplot within the overarching theme of salvation is the cost of salvation from a human vantagepoint. That is what this post is about.