“but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,” (1 Corinthians 1:23, ESV)
Last week I mentioned that I am going to be looking at some of the “hard sayings” of scripture. I believe that our failure to spend time trying to understand these things has led to a watered-down gospel and a soluble church.
The gospel was once called a “stumbling block.” But it is now all too common to hear what Dietrich Bonhöffer called “cheap grace” (The Cost of Discipleship). He describes it like this: “Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian ‘conception’ of God. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins.”
But Bonhöffer also describes what he calls “costly grace.” “Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him…” (emphasis mine).
It is true that the “gentiles,” the world around us, look at faith in Christ as folly. Although perhaps they look at it more as irrelevant. They see that so often those of us who identify ourselves as Christians don’t really live our lives any different than they do. I admit that I am guilty of this just as much as anyone else; and my fingers are all pointed at me. We all must decide on our own where we fall short of our Lord’s imperatives.
Salvation is a free gift of God (Romans 6:23). Yet we should strive to “present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (Romans 6:13, ESV).
We were dead spiritually before we came to Christ (Ephesians 2:1). More than that, we had no life in us whatsoever! We went about our existences without the only One who could give us life. In Christ we have been given life for the first time! In my mind Christ gave His life for me, so I should live mine for Him. I shouldn’t ask “what’s in it for me.” I shouldn’t consider “me first.”
The gospel of Christ is a stumbling block because we are called to give up the “right” to live our lives as we see fit in order to serve as He sees fit.
These are the musings of a mindful disciple. Blessings on your week.
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