Last week I started a short series on how to love and live like Jesus, which I hope to finish today. We discussed that it is possible to love and live like Jesus by imitating him and by abiding in and obeying him. Today, I would like to examine the costs Jesus paid and how the same costs apply to our lives.
Most of us recognize the cost of the cross, but few rarely think about the other costs that were paid on our behalf. I find this to be a dangerous omission because if we are to love and live Jesus, we too will have to pay these costs.
Mark 10: 45: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Philippians 2:5-8: “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God,[a] he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[b]; he took the humble position of a slave[c] and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,[d]8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
Let us think about this for a minute. Jesus, the son of God, one part of the Holy Trinity, gave up his status to come to Earth as a mere human to humbly serve and die for all of us. What does it mean to humble oneself? Well, according to Merriam Webster, it means to rank oneself lower in hierarchy. Jesus gave up his position in Heaven and lowered himself to walk this earth for 33 years. He did not come as a King as one may have expected, but as a humble servant, willing to do whatever his father asked.
Often times as we grow in our spiritual knowledge, we begin to think of ourselves on a higher tier. As we grow in our ministries and we start to teach, lead prayers group, lead worship, or whatever, we sometimes begin to think we are above certain jobs. Cleaning the church is one of those ministries that we tend to rise above. “I am a teacher, I do not clean toilets,” is often thought and sometimes spoken. When I hear things along these lines or I am tempted to speak them, I must remember that Jesus did not feel he was above anything, and if the son of God can wash feet, I can surely clean toilets.
Philippians 2:3-4: “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (NLT)
Our “status” or our ministries never and I mean never excuse us from serving. I don’t care if you are the best or most accurate prophet to ever walk this earth, you are still called to humble yourself and serve. You can use the gifts God gives you to teach, preach, or whatever, but you can still work in a soup kitchen, volunteer at your local food back, and numerous other hands on ministries. You will most likely meet and reach people who you would have never been able to minister to if you waited for them to come to you. Often times we paint ourselves into a box and can’t get out because we forget to paint a door. Do not forget the main reason you are here: to lead others to a life saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and sometimes this calls for us to get our hands dirty.
Humbleness doesn’t just happen; we must make the choice to let the wants, desires, and needs of other people come before our wants, desires, or needs. We must learn to give as God gave. He gave us the ultimate gift, his son Jesus Christ.
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son.”
Would you be willing to give your son to save your neighbor? Unfortunately, I don’t think I would be willing to make this sacrifice. I thank God I have never been asked to do so.
Another cost Jesus paid was physical pain. In the part of the world in which I live, physical pain does not often come with being a follower of Jesus Christ. I don’t think I appreciate this fact enough. There are people who have to pay this cost and they have nothing but my respect and admiration. I pray that I would have the strength to proclaim my faith under those conditions.
While we may not pay a cost of physical pain, there is an emotional pain cost to be paid when we humble ourselves to love and live like Jesus. There will be times where we will have to take the high road and look less than in order to be like Jesus. The world is a cruel place and sometimes the church is not much better. People will talk about us. People will lie about us. People will act superior than us. I have been there, done that, survived that, and I am sure to be there again. I would love to say that I went through it all with a smile on my face, but the truth is it hurt, and I shed many tears and spent many hours on the phone with my pastor in the midst of it. I would also like to say that it was always rectified and God restored my reputation or lifted me up in some way, but that didn’t always happen. I have seen God restore some of the things I have lost when I have humbled myself, but not everything or every time. However, I did learn and grow from these experiences. It is not the method I would have chosen if given a choice, but God taught me that I am called to be obedient to the Lord not because I am rewarded or blessed, but because I am called to obey.
Humbleness and obedience can indeed hurt, and that is why it is a cost. Jesus the Son of God came to save us, but was received with anger, ridicule, rejection, humiliation and scorn. What makes us think we won’t receive the same if we are imitating him, loving like him, and living like him?
The ultimate cost Jesus paid was his life. Some people say that God calls us to give up a lot, but he does not call us to give up our lives like Jesus did. I disagree.
Galatians 2:20: “ My old self has been crucified with Christ.[e] It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
We may not have to give up our physical body, but our spiritual body must be crucified with Christ in order for us to live. What that means to me is that my old selfish self must die, along with my selfish wants and desires, so that I may long to live a pure and pleasing life for God by the help of the Holy Spirit. Do not underestimate the help of the Holy Spirit because without him, we would not be able to do what we are called to do. I mean, the disciples lived and walked with Jesus everyday for years, but they did not “get it” and live like they were supposed to until they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
So, how do we put this information into action? How do we use this to apply to the issues of today? As I mentioned at the beginning of this series, I struggle with how to answer the whole same sex/gay marriage issue. I want to stand on God’s word, but I don’t want to judge and I want to love others. Well, I just try to picture what Jesus would do. [There is a reason that whole WWJD was so catchy] The story of the woman at the well always comes to mind. I imagine him meeting someone at the well and just talking to them. I think he would look them in the eye, smile, laugh, and show kindness all while speaking the truth. He would explain the scriptures without condemning. He would let them know they are loved. He would make them feel special. Kindness and love would pour out of him. I feel people are more apt to listen to someone when they believe and trust in the person. I may not know for sure what Jesus would do, but I am pretty sure he wouldn’t: make signs and march around yelling at people; plaster angry messages on social media; or bombard politicians with angry letters. There is such a thing as righteous anger, but if you recall, when Jesus got angry it was with the Pharisees and not the “sinners”.
The bottom line is that we must live a life worthy of trust so others are more willing to listen and follow us. I know this all seems like a bunch of Christian ease, but I truly believe the only way we will reach people is if we do what Jesus did, love like Jesus did; and live like Jesus did.
Until next time, stay safe and God Bless,