In churches today we water down what it will cost a person should they decide to become a follower of Jesus Christ. We have this radical inclusivity concept where we will do anything to get people involved and to become a part of the family of God and build the numbers in the local church. We simply don’t want anyone to miss out and walk away from Jesus Christ.
So, because of the possible discomfort of the cross we are to take up daily we clip the claws of the Lion of Judah a little bit, we clean up the bloody Passion we are called to follow and woe people into a false sense of security and assurance. They can have all the benefits without any of the responsibilities and obligations.
Jesus is talking to His disciples – that included you and me – about who can get into the Kingdom of God and comments that rich people will find it hard. The disciples react because, after all, they need some rich followers to support the ministry and give the cash necessary to keep the ministry functioning. Therefore, let’s not make it too hard as we might scare them away and lose them permanently. The disciples cry out, “Who then can be saved?” In other words, “why must you make it so hard as we are trying to build a movement here Jesus?”
Jesus does not exclude rich people, He just lets them know that rebirth costs them and everyone else everything. The story is not so much about whether rich folks are welcome as it is about the nature of the Kingdom of God, which has an ethic and economy diametrically opposed to those of the world. Rather than accumulating stuff for oneself, followers of Jesus abandon everything, trusting in God for providence.
The temptation we face today in the Church is to be radically inclusive and I am all for embracing people regardless of their sin and their lifestyle. However, the temptation we face in our tolerant societies is to compromise the cost of discipleship, and in the process, the Christian identity can get lost. We don’t want folks to walk away – we sincerely long for others to come to know the Father’s love and grace and be saved. But, not at the cost of true discipleship.
It is interesting that one of the stories of the early church in Acts is the bizarre tale of a couple named Ananias and Sapphira, who withheld a portion of their possessions for the common offering and then lie about it. Peter confronts them and God strikes them dead. Not tolerant and not very inclusive. Definitely not “cheap grace.”
Maybe it is time to rethink the way we live?