We do our faith a disservice when we make it to be all gain and no pain. We seem to tell everyone that it will never cost them anything. It is a faith to get rich in. It is a faith that laughs all the time. It is a faith with no hard bumps, no steep hills and no bad times.
This may be why people think that the church is there to make them happy, that tithing is a matter of giving and that God would never ask them to leave anything they love to follow Him. This is why we searched for over three years for a Minister of Music. Many of these "ministers" didn't want to leave Texas or Georgia or Alabama or Ohio or any of the places where they were close to their families. They thought that their faith would never make them drink from a bitter cup. They never understood the meaning of sacrificing for the Lord. Why sacrifice if our faith is all smiles and giggles?
Last night I read the story of the widow who gave her last two sents at the temple. Jesus was watching. In fact, He had set Himself and the disciples in a position to watch what everyone gave. He didn't say anything about the rich. He was there to watch the widow give her last two cents. He told the disciples she gave from her needs while everyone else gave as it was convenient.
I thought, "Where is the rest of the story?" You know, the story where she leaves the temple and someone gives her a million bucks. You know, the one in which a rich man marries her and takes her away from all her poverty. You know, the one in which she gets a great reward for giving her last two cents. And you know, its not there. There is no story that says she didn't starve to death. There is no story that says she was rewarded on earth for her faith. There is no story that says that her obedience was her last act of faith on the earth.
Sometimes you have to drink from a cup you would rather pass on. Most of the early Christians knew what they were getting themselves into. They knew that those who killed Jesus would want to kill them too. They knew that their faith could cost them their lives. And it did for many of them.
Our faith was built on a foundation of all for Christ. It was not convenient to be a Christian. It was a true sacrifice. Yet, under these conditions, it spread like wildfire. It seems that today we present Christianity as a faith of convenience and abundance. Yet, under these conditions, churches are closing.
Could it be that our faith doesn't mean anything to the outside world if it doesn't mean anything to us? Sacrifice reveals love. Love attracts people. Convenience fosters condemnation of others.(After all, others are not convenient.) Condemnation repells people.
Would you have given your last two cents if you were the widow in the temple that day? I pray that I would. That woman counted for something. She caused the Savior to come watch and praise her. Her faith meant something. It was deep. It revealed a relationship.
True Christianity is not all smiles and giggles. It is rich but not in the ways people will explain riches. It is rich in the relationship with our Lord. You will never be closer to Him than when you drink from the cup you would like to pass on. Will you take a sip?