SCRIPTURE: Acts 14:22 (TM) – larger reading Acts 14:19-28
…putting muscle and sinew in the lives of the disciples, urging them to stick with what they had begun to believe and not quit, making it clear to them that it wouldn't be easy: "Anyone signing up for the kingdom of God has to go through plenty of hard times."
Max Lucado tells this story: The thieves broke in at night. It was a large department store in a major metropolitan area. They got in, stayed long enough to do the crime, and scurried away undetected. It is not what you think. They took nothing. Not one item was missing. No merchandise stolen. No money removed. What they did goes down as the most unusual robbery of all time.
Instead of stealing anything, they changed the price tags of everything. Price tags were swapped. Values were changed. The cleaver pranksters took the $395 price tag off a camera and stuck on it $5.00 from a box of stationary. The $5.95 sticker for a paperback book was placed on an outboard motor. The thieves re-priced everything in the store. Crazy.
It gets crazier. The store opened. The employees came to work. Customers rolled in and shopped. And for four hours nobody noticed a thing. For four hours the store functioned under the new pricing. Many got some great bargains. Some got fleeced. Hard to believe? No! Max Lucado
We want the bargains. We desire the discounts. We hunt long and hard to discover a real savings. That is especially true when it comes to discipleship. We want the easy way, the less demanding, the path of least resistance.
As shared in the book of Acts the early disciples had just the opposite experience. They were challenged at every turn. They found themselves struggling under a heavy burden. They considered giving up, but then comes a word of encouragement.
It is easy to become discouraged. It is enticing to consider doing something easy. But if it was easy it wouldn’t be a Kingdom issue. God never promises his followers an easy way. Didn’t Jesus state that we were to take up our crosses and follow him (Luke 9:23)? In the same sentence didn’t Jesus also ask us to deny ourselves? Those are encouraging words … not!
Discipleship works because it is hard. It is very demanding. And we will be stronger when we emerge on the other side of the struggle.
To quote Kermit the Frog: “It isn’t being green” as in being different, standing out from the crowd, doing what everybody else isn’t doing or willing to do. Such is the deal with being a disciple.
We really do what to be your disciple Lord, but we really do wish it was a little less challenging. Help us in our journey. Give us strength for the trials ahead and to continue regardless of the cost.