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The following is a comment I posted as an addendum to B2Ys blog "How much does it cost to be a doulos" of August 6. 2010 (hope you dont mind the reference!).
Reading the blog: "How much does it cost to be a doulos" brought to mind some life experiences that I know many others have shared. What follows below is not to contradict that blog, but to serve as a warning on how not to try to live it!
Reading the entry evoked overwhelming sadness in me, and I believe this response is a warning to all who try to accomplish the 7 demands (see the referenced blog) through a sense of duty.
Here is my story. Three times I have left everything. I believe this was always done out of a desire to follow Gods will. BUT, only the first time was it done purely out of the love of Christ.
While performing the others, I lived with a sense of duty - it was the right thing to do. I came to believe that, in order to live the Christian life, God demanded obedience, sacrifice, overcoming obstacles and hardships, selflessness and carrying my cross. I learned to fear the possibility of not hearing that "Well done" at the Judgment. I was in Gods path for my life, but my life was being strangled by my (and others) expectations of how we are meant to live.
It was not that I concentrated my mind and effort on doing the right thing. Rather, it was a subtle deception in the back of my mind, where a battle between perceived demands and the life of Christ kept me preoccupied. I kept hearkening back to the days when I ran joyfully in His ways, living and loving Him and all around me with the freedom of a newlywed!
It took many years before I found out what went wrong. It finally came to me through one incredible scripture, Romans 7:9 Â€ÂœFor I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.Â€
This verse slammed into my heart and soul as I realized what Paul was saying. I had always thought he was referring to his life before following Christ, but this just doesnt fit! To be alive without the law can only mean he was in Christ. So, after his conversion, the Â€Â˜demands came and he died! It hit me so powerfully that the same had happened to me!
With this came a fresh and humbling revelation of grace. It is He who saves us, matures us and makes us right before the Father for all time. His is the alpha of our faith and the omega, the beginning and the end. We love Him only because He first loved us and He shares His love through us by His own glorious power, not ours. His rivers of living water flow through us. He satisfied the demands of the law, so we do not need to. He made us Â€Â˜acceptable to Him, poured out His abundance on us, made us sons and co-heirs, blessed with all spiritual blessings; He walks with us and will never forsake us.
Our Â€Â˜work for God is to Â€Â˜only believe (John 6:28-29). Believe on Him; believe the Gospel, the great message of freedom and salvation. Rejoice and revel in the abundant life and beauty of His being, His overwhelming love for us. To the Father, we are worth the cost of His Son! Would He ever give us a snake instead of a fish?
If we know that we know that His will for us is life, liberty and joy, we will not focus on the hardships, the fears and uncertainties. Although they will surely come, they will be like mists that pass fleetingly across the beauty of His landscape. This is fighting the good fight of faith.
But for now I beware the desire to Â€Â˜do, it leads only to sadness and bondage. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it (Ps 127:1).
How much does it cost? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! For I count it all joyÂ€...