I was on my way to the American Christian Fiction Writers in St. Louis on a Southwest flight between Denver and St. Louis, seated next to a very nice young man (well, young compared to me--probably 40ish). I noticed the book he read--Today's Gospel, Authentic or Synthetic? by Walter Chantry. Ted said it was his favorite book, one that he reread a lot. On the way home from St. Louis a few days later, I read it, too.
Mr. Chantry chose as his text for the book the passage in Mark 10:17-22 about the rich young ruler. I'm not going to repeat the whole thing for you; if you can read this, you can find and read the passage in the Bible. Basically, it talks about a young ruler who asked Jesus what he needed to inherit eternal life. After a short conversation in which the ruler told Jesus he'd obeyed the law since he was a child, Jesus told him that now the ruler needed to sell all he had and give it to the poor. That was too much. The ruler couldn't do it, and he went away from Jesus unhappy. That was too big a hurdle for him. So he traded eternity with God for his riches on earth. What a loss!
Mr. Chantry didn't approve or agree with the thought that a person could just say they accepted Jesus as their savior and be saved. He says it takes (1) true repentance, (2) get rid of what stands between you and God, and (3) love.
That sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Or does it.
Repentence: turning your back on whatever you were doing that you know good and well you shouldn't be doing. If you feel you must defend what you're doing, perhaps you should think about it again. Some things are easier to repent of than others, aren't they? Let's see, today I could repent of, um, eating chocolate, or if that's too hard, of eating one extra cookie. Let's not get too carried away here--like repenting of flirting with that cute guy who's married. Where's the harm in that? Well, if you have to ask, perhaps you might not be as close to God as you'd like to be.
Get rid of what stands between you and God? That's sort of like the repentence thing. Jesus didn't tell everyone who was wealthy to get rid of everything they owned to follow Him. With the rich young ruler, that was the Mount Everest that stood between him and God. With me, it might be getting rid of the need for people to approve of all that I do. For you, it might be learning to do without your morning Starbucks visit and putting that five bucks into feeding the homeless.
And to love. Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." How deep is your love?
Jesus gave His grace for free. He paid the price for all our sin. All He asks in return-----is everything. Our wealth, if He asks it. Our lives, if need be. Every hour of every day for every one of His disciples.
How big is the mountain that stands between you and God? Are you willing to let it be leveled? You don't have to level it yourself, you just need to be willing for God to do so. Maybe the decision is the hardest part--on the other hand, maybe the leveling of that mountain could take our lives. For instance, missionaries who go into dangerous territory, or people who make a decision for Christ where that is forbidden.
Grace is free, but love may cost us all we have. I hope, when He asks it of me, I will give willingly and immediately.