Count The Cost
When you surrender to Jesus, everything you “own” becomes His: your house, your boat, your car, your grass, your property, your bed, your couch, even your own body (1 Corinthians 6:20). No wonder Jesus tells us to “count the cost” (Luke 14:27-35). Before you come to Christ, you are under the delusion that everything you have is yours.
But, after you are “in Christ,” you realize that God owns everything, and that you are merely a steward—a steward of money, things, time, and people (Deuteronomy 8:17). You are a steward of your (God’s) children. You are a steward of what you do with your (God’s) finances. You are a steward of how you choose to spend your (God’s) evenings. Your whole perception changes to realizing that you are called to wisely manage everything that God has blessed you with (Luke 19:11-27).
This was how the early disciples lived. They gave their lives to the mission and ministry of the church. It wasn’t just the pastor who alone did the preaching, teaching, or community service. Everyone was involved. And they shared money as was needed to spread the gospel.
Even though money today works differently (depending on your context), God is still calling us to have the same mindset, that of sharing what we have been blessed with by God as a church and a community. The early church community invited people into their homes, and they became family to people who were not blood relatives, especially those whose Christian faith cost them their original family and friends. But Jesus promised that even though you may lose family, you will gain a family in the church.
The Kingdom of God will become your family (Mark 10:28-30). This is what God intended for His church. He wants it to be a chosen family of believers united in the singular purpose of glorifying God, who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
The church, after the death and resurrection of Christ, was based on a new model different from the model of ancient Israel. “Israel” is now a term outside of a geo-political entity. Israel is now everyone who is part of God’s redeemed sinners — saints. This is the Kingdom of God that Jesus came preaching about (Mark 1:14, 15). He added to all who had come before and had faith in Him (Galatians 3:6). We join Him as brothers—regardless of gender, class, or race—when we are baptized (Galatians 3:26-29). We are adopted into the family of God (Ephesians 1:10-14). Ephesians 1 gives us a glimpse into the story. It went something like this:
When the infinite God of love made the plan of salvation before He had even yet created the world, God saw the fall of humanity. But also He desired to save them from that upcoming fall. He didn’t want to lose them forever. He wanted them as He had originally created them.
God didn’t plan for humanity to fall, but knowing the risk involved in free will, He knew that they would. He knew that they would be deceived and that many would reject His offer of salvation. But He also saw that many would repent and would want to live a life free from the curse of sin.
Thus, He, Himself, would be the plan of salvation for humanity; that is, He would die on their behalf and then advocate for them in heaven and, ultimately, reunite them with God and heaven. This is the heart and soul of the plan of salvation, a plan instituted by the Godhead even before time began.
And the goal of the Godhead was restoration of fallen humanity to perfect oneness with all creation. Not identical uniformity throughout the universe, but rather all creation unified in their unique contributions to a kingdom built on self-sacrificing perfect holy love.
Adam and Eve were the representatives of humanity. They were the parents of our species and they were created perfect. But they gave up that perfection when they adopted an evil father—Satan. God’s children were, at that moment, lost to him. All humans born after that decision have been born in iniquity as children of the devil (Psalm 51:5; 1 John 3:8, 9). Though Adam and Eve really were without excuse for what they had done, God was going to save them. And the Bible, and the story of the early church as found in the New Testament, are God’s official record of Him saving humanity.
All this is hopeful, even very encouraging. But even with the promises of a heart of peace, and of freedom from guilt and shame, and of eternal life with God in heaven—we are still here. Heaven is distant, and we still get sick and die now.
What about the discrimination we face? What about the oppression? What about those who take advantage of widows and orphans? What about those who cheat us? What about when we are falsely accused? What about when we are sick or hurt? What about when we are dying? What about war? What about famine? What about pestilence? What about poverty?
Does God see all these things? Or is God concerned only about the time when we actually get to heaven and we just need to bite the bullet now?
Not only does God see all those evils, but He provides for us in the midst of them.
You may be wondering if God will provide for you when times get hard. God has made numerous promises that He will take care of us, so we can trust in Him (Malachi 3:10; Matthew 6:25-34).
He has provided a light in the darkness (Matthew 5:14-16).
He has provided a boat in the storm of life.
He has provided comfort for the broken-hearted, peace for the weary, and help in a time of need.
He calls this the Kingdom of God. He calls this the Church Family (Mark 10:28-30).
This is why God has called us to be good stewards while we are here on earth. That is, He wants us, as a church, as a people, to help remedy, to the degree possible now, in a fallen world—the evils that sin has brought about the world. His church is to be a place of healing, of hope, of comfort for those in need. Evil, until Christ returns, is never going to go away. But we need to do all that we can, with the gifts God has given us, to alleviate the suffering that evil causes.
Thus, God gives us wealth and the means to get wealth in order to provide relief to the poor, needy, and oppressed. But it is His wealth, not ours. We are only the stewards.
He gives us talents to bless others. But these are His talents. We are only the stewards.
He gives us our material possession, not for our own selfish use, but to bless others. They are all His possessions, not ours. We are only stewards.
He gives us time. But time, too, belongs to Him, and it was given to us to use to bless others.
Can you see? God is the great provider, and He has chosen us to be His distributors. When we become Christians, this understanding of us as only stewards becomes our guiding mindset. Christ says that where our treasure is, there are heart will be also.
Is your treasure in heaven, or is it all around you on earth? For, where your treasure is, there is where your heart will be too.