Sunday, January 14, 2007

cost of obedience

If we obey God, it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the pain begins. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything— it is a delight. But to those who do not love Him, our obedience does cost a great deal. If we obey God, it will mean that other people’s plans are upset. They will ridicule us as if to say, "You call this Christianity?" We could prevent the suffering, but not if we are obedient to God. We must let the cost be paid. -Oswald Chambers

Daniel's three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew the cost of obeying God by not bowing before idol. They were cast into the fiery furnace, but God delivered them and honored their faith-driven declaration: "But even if he [God] does not [deliver us], we want you to know, O king, we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:18)

Their powerful testimony only heats up the fury and rage of both the king and the fiery furnace.

God rescues the three friends by allowing not even their hair to be singed. The only thing that gets burnt up when they were cast into the fire were the soldiers who were pushing them into it and the binds that held them fast.

When we obey God, there is a cost to be paid. For these three young men, it was their lives. They were willing to pay it, and God honored that faith.

But as Oswald Chambers mentioned, there is another, far more difficult cost that has to be reckoned when we walk in obedience to God. It is the cost our loved ones are forced to pay as a consequence of our obedience to Him.

As they [the soldiers] led him [Jesus] away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)

Jesus obeyed His Father and took up the cross. But as a result, another (ostensibly innocent bystander) paid a price for his obedience.

A man Simon from a North African city of Cyrene was randomly picked out picked out from the crowd to carry Jesus' crossbeam up to Golgotha.

We know little about this man from the Gospels. Luke along with Matthew and Mark make a one-verse mention of this seemingly minute detail, easily overlooked in the light of the incredible historic event of crucifixion of the Son of God.

Nonetheless, it is significant that all three synoptic Gospel authors make a point to mention Simon of Cyrene.

It must have been a humiliating experience to carry the blood-drenched cross of a condemned criminal. It identified Simon to a bloodied felon.

We don't know what he thought of the whole ordeal, but we do know what happened as a result of his unintentional participation: his entire family became believers.

Mark takes effort to mention that Simon was the father of two sons, Alexander and Rufus. Mark's Gospel was written for a gentile audience - most likely those residing in the heart of the Empire, Rome.

It is interesting that Apostle Paul, in his list of greeting in which he recognizes notable leaders and servants in the Church in his letter of to the Romans, he mentions a man named Rufus:

Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. (Romans 16:13)

Chosen in the Lord.

Simon Cyrene was forced by a pagan Roman soldier who cared as much for as him as he did for the condemned Jesus to carry the cross. What history can retell as "forced" and "random," God calls it "chosen."

We don't know what went through Simon's mind during his cross bearing ordeal, but we do know he along with his sons and even his wife were all saved.

What's more, not only were they saved, they were of notable character in the body of Christ in Rome.

Jesus obeyed God and paid a huge cost to save all mankind.

His obedience caused an innocent bystander - as it were - to share that humiliation.

But God took care of the consequences.

Oswald Chambers ends with this exhortation:

If we obey God, He will care for those who have suffered the consequences of our obedience. We must simply obey and leave all the consequences with Him.

--from Nakwon EM Jan. 14th Sunday Worship Service


shinyoung said...

this was a good message... it reminds me of this book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "The Cost of Discipleship" (this quote is on the back of the book~)

"When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die"

"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves... the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship [...]"

"Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock [...]"
"It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life."

Anonymous said...

Actually, Dietrich Bonfoeffer's book, "Cost of Discipleship," was the inspiration for this mesage.


shinyoung said...

whhhhat, very cool!
the old EM pastor, BJ jdsn, told me to read the book when he left~ but i never really read it completly~

now- since i have nothing else to read, i'm going to finish it!!