April 01, 2011

We often treasure most that which costs us most. We say that these objects or relationships are "priceless" to us, right? What we mean is that they are so dear we would be willing to give or do anything to keep them close. Friendships, rooted deep in the fertile soil of love, long nurtured and valued; family ties whose bonds are inexpressible — for these we would give anything. For them, we would be willing to offer, if needed, our very lives. Why? Because they are priceless!

Take a moment with me to reflect on the value of the name we carry: Christian. As a Christian, we are a disciple and follower of the one we call the Christ — the Messiah, Savior of the world. He is not an ordinary Master. Indeed, He is the Son of God! So, how priceless is He to me? To you?

A survey of those who followed Christ during His ministry on earth, as well as those who were His disciples during that fast-paced era of history found in the book of Acts, should inform us that discipleship is a costly affair — one which is motivated by the life-defining and priceless relationship we have with Jesus the Christ.

Remember the rich young ruler who approached Jesus, more than ready to be His number one follower? When Jesus finally got through all the smoke-screens and pat answers to the heart of what it meant to be His disciple, the rich young would-be follower of Christ hesitated, then walked away. Why? Because Jesus was not priceless to Him. The command to "sell all that you have and distribute [it] to the poor" was just too high a price to pay for the honorary title of "Christian."

In contrast, we must remember the price borne by disciples like James, half of that duo called the Sons of Thunder; Peter, the hard-of-hearing, passionate fisherman-turned-follower of Christ; Stephen, that first of seven deacons, bold and faithful in the face of angry, murderous men anxious to drag him to the local stoning ground; Paul, the single-minded missionary to the Gentile world; and so many others who valued Christ so much they gladly gave their lives as martyrs for the Kingdom of God rather than hesitate and walk away. Costly price to pay for being a disciple of a carpenter from Nazareth, wouldn't you say? No — not at all, especially if that Nazarene was priceless to you. If His life, death and resurrection and the joy of a daily walk with you meant the abiding peace of calling Him your Savior and friend! I love the way Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it when he said, "salvation is free ... but discipleship will cost you your life."

One of the frightening and dulling webs Satan loves to spin around those of us in the church of Christ — those who bear the name of Christian — is to take the joy of discipleship and offer it up as an item on special "sale;" to cheapen what it means to be a follower of Christ. He knows what costs little is valued less. Before long, being a Christian means little to nothing and is, as maybe our friend the rich young ruler thought, a simple and politically expedient label to wear with, of course, a measure of sanctified pride. Hum...?

"All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give." Why? Because He is priceless to me. "I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live..." Priceless.

"What costs little is valued less."