Are you a believer or a disciple of Christ? Do you know the difference? We can believe a lot of things about God, but are we willing to really follow Him? Have we counted the costs, really? Luke 14:26-33 describes the cost.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple."
Anything that is about ourselves, we’ve got to let go. It’s how things get so complicated! If we fix our eyes on God, things really are simple! And the simplicity of it is this: we are created for God’s glory. It’s when I start to put my good ahead of God’s glory that everything begins to fall apart. We play a “Cat vs. Dog Theology”. The owner of a dog treats it well and provides all it needs, so the dog thinks the owner must be God. The owner of a cat does likewise, providing for it and loving it, but the cat thinks itself must be God! We do the same thing do we not? Isn't that the essence of sin? Man substituting himself for God?
We talked about this some last time; how we pick and choose the pieces of the Bible that are about “me”. Then, truths that are meant to be simple become issues of “right and wrong” between us. However, that’s really not the issue. The Bible is right; it is truth. But what we’ve done is make our interpretations right, but incomplete. But once you view the Bible through the lens of God’s glory, the reality becomes readily apparent:
In Psalm 6, David cries out to God to answer him “for the sake of Your steadfast love.” In death, David says, he would not be able to give Him praise, but if God delivered him from his enemies, it would be God who would get the glory.
In Psalm 25, David asks God to remember His own mercy and love and to remove his sin “for the sake of your goodness” and “for the sake of your name”.
Psalm 109:21 again asks God to “deal on my behalf for your name’s sake”. A few verses later (26-27), David pleads again to be saved so that people would know that it was God’s hand at work.
A popular song by Chris Tomlin, “Not To Us” is taken right from Psalm 115. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.” It goes on to say that all the nations should proclaim that his God is the true God.
David’s defeat of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 is more than a story about facing our giants in life. In fact, it’s not about us at all! David would not stand for Goliath blaspheming his God and his cry just before the giant’s defeat included, “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
After Israel was taken into Babylonian exile, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered everyone to worship a golden idol (Daniel 3), yet three faithful men would not and were thrown into a fiery furnace. The result? God’s name was known in another nation! The king decreed that on one could speak against their God. Similarly, a few chapters later (Daniel 6), Daniel was thrown into a den of lions for continuing to worship God despite a royal edict to stop. When Daniel stepped out the next morning unharmed, the king decreed that “all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.”
Even in hardship, God works toward His glory. We turn back to David in Psalm 69:7, where he says “For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face.” The Psalmist in Psalm 44 also stated “Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” This key verse was used by Paul in Romans 8. Our problem with this is, when life is about us, we balk at the hard times. But if Christ suffered, even having lived a perfectly sinless life, how could we then expect not to encounter hardships in our own lives?
Even the most despicable example of hardship, evil, and death was purposed to glorify God. The cross was the ultimate expression of God’s steadfast love. A popular song states “…and thought of me, above all”. That’s true but it’s incomplete. Christ was thinking about the glory of His Father on the cross. Before the cross is for anyone else’s sake, the cross is for God’s sake. Ultimately, Christ died for God! The forgiveness that results from out salvation is not about us. Isaiah 43:25 says “’I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake.’” God redeems people to bring glory to Himself.
The challenge against today’s Americanized Christian clichés and conventions is this: if I get today, if I don’t get what my sins deserve, then may I live a life so that God is glorified. Our love for God drives us to the ends of the earth. It cannot be kept for ourselves. And before we take our next step in our role in joining God in His mission work, we better count the costs and surely remember that it is all for His glory. As long as there is one more nation, one more people not giving their worship to God, then He has not received what He deserves.