"When troops move to take a beachhead, they do so with the conscious plan that they will sacrifice thousands of men. What if the Christian church moved into the world with the same convictions? What if we had a conscious plan to follow (Jesus) even though it might cost many lives? ...It would appear that before the Christian church justifies giving the lives of so many of its people in military involvement it should look at the greater sin of being unwilling to sacrifice lives of affluent ease for the cause of building the Kingdom of Christ." - Myron S. Augsburger; War:Four Christian Views, page 93.
Counting the cost is difficult. It forces us to look at ourselves with unflinching honesty. It means looking into the mirror to see who we really are without our masks on. It means not turning away from that painful reflection, no matter what we see staring back at us.
Where does the loyalty of the Church truly lie? Are we more passionate for our flag or our nation than we are for our Savior and our God? Perhaps the answer is more obvious than we care to admit.
An idol, by definition, is anything you will sacrifice your children to in order to maintain your own comfort and protect your way of life. What, then, do we in America sacrifice our children to? What is the name of the god we appease when we send our sons and daughters off to a foreign land in order to protect the American way of life?
"And I heard another voice from heaven saying, 'Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities'" (Revelation 18:4,5)
What does it mean to be in the world but not of the world? Are we primarily citizens of the Kingdom of God? Or are we first and foremost the patriotic sons and daughters of the United States of America?
The Church is part of a global nation whose citizens are found all around the world. Most of our brothers and sisters were not born under the banner of the red, white and blue. They do not call themselves Capitalists, or Socialists. They are simply followers of Jesus who hold their greatest allegiance to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
To this day the worldwide Body of Christ is made up of former communists, capitalists, socialists, and zionists. We are now members of One Body. We are not properly identified to our Lord as Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Charismatics, Pentecostals, or Anglicans. We are simply His children. We are His Body. We are ambassadors of His Kingdom, and His Kingdom alone.
The question before us now is, are we willing to lay down our lives for the Kingdom of God? Are we willing to die for the Gospel of Jesus? Do we honestly place Jesus on the actual throne of our lives?
There is a profound difference, I am learning, between "being willing" to lay down your life for Christ and actually laying down your real life for Him.
And now, sitting here at the keyboard typing out these words, here in my 3 bedroom house in one of the richest counties in our nation, I am reminded of the words of Jackie Pullinger who said, "The Gospel is always life for the one who receives it, and death for the one who brings it."
Where is my death? Where is my dying? Where, even more, is the life of Christ in the one who has received the Gospel I have championed?
What has it cost me to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom? What is the fruit of the Gospel of Jesus in my actual life? Am I being transformed daily into His image? Am I capable of letting go of my life in order to receive the rivers of living water that Jesus offers me now?
"Are you able to drink from the cup of suffering that I am about to drink?" - Jesus (Mark 10:38)
Would I sacrifice my bank account to advance the Kingdom of God? Would I surrender my career for the Gospel of Christ? Would I risk everything - or anything - for Jesus?