“Orthodox Jews consider Christianity to be a cheap religion.”
A teacher of mine made this statement a long time ago and it struck me deeply. Every once in a while, God brings it back to me as a reminder full of conviction.
As I look at modern Western Christianity today, it must seem cheap to outsiders looking in. We have turned Christianity into a few sacraments which requires nothing more than a momentary feeling of “I’m sorry” and a magic word formula to punch the ticket to eternal salvation. Nothing more required. The “good ones” might even tithe 10% regularly and serve in ministry or in the community on occasion. But daily? We’ve decided it can become an after-thought: prayer only when necessary. Bible? nah. Time spent sitting quietly listening for the still small voice of God? Who has time for God in their weekday?
But Jesus? He had a vastly different view. In Matthew 13, we find a series of parables of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like, including this one in vv45-46:
According to Jesus, the kingdom is like the pearl of “great value” found by a merchant. In the ancient world, pearls were like the modern value of diamonds. Pearls were a high-end luxury good which had a very large profit margin. This merchant is a salesman by trade. His entire existence is funded by making money off of goods he sells.
This time, however, the merchant finds a pearl of such exquisite value, the only way he could afford it is to sell off everything he has to own it.
Not resell it. OWN IT.
This man impoverished himself so he could simply obtain this item.
Through this parable, Jesus is telling his disciples that living in the Kingdom of Heaven will cost us everything as well. To be full of the Kingdom of Heaven, to dwell in it, we must…
…Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your mind.‘ (Mat 22:37; Deut 6:5)
For we will only find the fullness of the Kingdom when we…
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with ALL your heart. Jer 29:13
Like mixing hot oil into cold water, if we spend time chasing our own pleasure and things of the world instead of the Kingdom of Heaven, one displaces the other and both become lukewarm and useless. We cannot live in the Kingdom of Heaven with one foot in the world. We cannot be effective disciples and witnesses of Jesus when we chase the same things as the world. It is not possible to live for Jesus and fulfill our God-given purposes if we are too busy being nullified by mindless entertainment and world-driven pursuits.
In the letter to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22, Jesus says, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
We have allowed the oil of the world to displace the fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven in every part of our lives and are living lukewarm. Mixed and useless.
In some ways, the Orthodox Jews are correct: the Kingdom of Heaven costs nothing – it is a free gift from God. But in every way that matters, the Kingdom of Heaven costs everything.
Do you consider the Kingdom of Heaven to be worth everything?
If God asked you to give up
and replace the time spent on those things in pursuit of Him, would you do it?
If part of you balks at this – as it did when I asked this of myself – maybe that is God showing you the status of your heart. Maybe this is your wake-up call that you are living a lukewarm life – mixed into uselessness for the Kingdom. As Lent approaches, maybe God is calling you to give up something and exchange it for time spent seeking God and His Kingdom.
We are told that we have the Power of the Holy Spirit living within us to empower us to do incredible things for the Kingdom of Heaven. Are you living an empowered life? Do you see the fruit of such power throughout your days? We are told that we will see and do miracles through the power of the Spirit. Is that our reality?
This is the reality of Christians who have given everything for the Kingdom of Heaven all over the world. There is testimony of healings, miracles in abundance, people being raised from the dead from churches in persecuted places all over the world. The power of God is real, alive, and at work within the world-wide church.
This could be our reality, too. If only we would sell everything to have it…