There are two answers to the question. Certainly we should be willing to pay the cost, even if we could get “it” for free. But in our society there are many things that are “FREE”. The ones that get me are the huge discounts for cars or remodeling services – obviously not a giveaway.
Government has all kinds of ways of handing out free money. For local governments all it costs is the sacrifice of the local governments Constitutional autonomy plus “matching funds”.
But all too often Christians do count the cost. The cost of their time, their priorities, their vulnerability, their emotional energy, is too great to 1) participate in a mission trip (and raise their own funds), 2) befriending a lost soul who may need more than a year to learn to trust the Christian’s witness and to come to saving grace, or 3) to forgive someone that has hurt them or ask for forgiveness from someone they’ve hurt.
Getting Beyond the Cost
“Free” could be counted as blessings greater than sacrifice. Men need to remember their ability to focus. In the case of our Christian faith, that focus should be a focus on evangelism and discipleship. When I wrote the previous paragraph, it was based on my experiences in mission trips, reaching out to lost men, and settling my accounts with people that have hurt me or people I’ve hurt. And I can honestly say the benefits have out-weighed the costs.
Jesus commissioned all men with the “Great Commission”.
(Matthew 28:18-20 WEB) 18And Jesus came, and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and upon earth. 19Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. 20Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, [even] to the end of the world. Amen.
It is easy for some men to say Jesus is only addressing the Apostles or the preachers today. That is not the case. Preachers are there to train us to be evangelizers and disciplers. And men often have doubts about talking to other men about the deeper meanings of life, particularly when it comes to our heart issues. And often to contemplate our own heart issues.
If someone told me they never doubted I would ask them if they can walk on water. One person that doubted was John the Baptist. And yet – what does Jesus say about him?
(Matthew 11:2-3 WEB) 2Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3And said to him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
(Matthew 11:11 WEB) Verily, I say to you, among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he.
When John the Baptist was imprisoned by King Herod, the deprivation and isolation drained his emotional energy and he succumbed to doubt. All men will have doubts from time to time. But if they isolate themselves from the church and Christian friends, doubt will draw them away. The world promises easier answers to life’s questions. With no reservations towards sexual sins, State lotteries, on-line poisons of all sorts, addictions, etc. the Christian man is rendered worthless to the church and his family.
Church is Harder
Church should be a fellowship – not a competition. There should be no “my ministries” in the church. As an Elder in the church I saw where most of the “I can’t work with so-and-so” arise among the women. I believe men are more familiar with team sports and can work with varying viewpoints more readily. I realize this is a gross generalization – but it does help to illustrate what men can observe and learn from.
Too often the costs outweigh the benefits. And it’s easy for men to walk away and skip the “drama”. While women lead a lot of ministries in the church (largely because more women attend church), there is still a role for men. As in the home, also in church, men who are true lovers of their wives and of the church, should lead by example and actions. And nothing makes church harder than gossip. Men should not participate, but be the ones to stop the chain of the gossip.
But Church Does Not Need To Be Harder
Church is not meant to be hard. The first century church was a wonderful caring and prayer led assembly.
(Acts 2:41-45 WEB) 41Then they that gladly received his word, were baptized: and the same day there were added [to them] about three thousand souls. 42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all [men], as every man had need.
For all of the rough edges that new converts bring to the church, they also have a quality of innocence and enthusiasm for Jesus Himself. As they mature in their faith, they lose their innocence and pick up the cynicism resulting from the battles within the church. Prayer becomes limited to health and wealth issues and not the expansion of the Kingdom of God through evangelism and benevolence, Church programs revolve around the congregation and not on the people outside of the church.
The key to resolving these issues comes with returning to what first brought wholeness to the first century church. What the church should be is like, is in the following passage.
(Revelation 2:1-3 WEB) 1To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and that thou canst not bear them who are evil; and thou hast tried them who say they are apostles, and are not; and hast found them liars: 3And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.
There’s a “BUT” before the letter to Ephesus is finished.
(Revelation 2:4-5 WEB) 4Nevertheless, I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5Remember therefore from whence thou hast fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent.
Love Not Religion
The new convert has an innocence that is enthralled with the man Jesus. This is the basic of our faith. We do not follow a religion. Religion requires sacrifices from us. Jesus only asks for our love. And like loves here on earth, we seek to know more about our “love”. And that is through prayer, fellowship, and Bible study,
And what is our cost. We should already know that its free!
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