Hanging in the hallway of our house is a piece of artwork created by my daughter, Laura. (see left) Her intent was to create an emotional response in effort to raise awareness around the subject of human slavery. The single bar-code on the girl’s foot graphically reminds viewers that there are still women throughout the world who are literally bought and sold every day.
As I was contemplating her piece again the other day, it occurred to me that it’s not just trafficked girls who have a price.
We all do.
Now, I’m not talking about the price for your eternal soul. Through Christ’s death on the cross Jesus proclaimed our immense value. Because it took nothing less than the life of God Himself to redeem us, the price it took to buy us back from the clutches of sin is extremely high.
The question I’m posing here is a more practical one. What is the price of your commitment to God? What would it take for you to turn your back on Him? Your initial response might be to believe there’s nothing that would cause you to abandon your faith, but you know, Peter, Christ’s most loyal disciple, said the same thing. The night before Jesus was crucified, he strongly and sincerely promised Jesus that “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” (Matt 26:33) But as the scripture tells us, only hours later, he’d denied even knowing Jesus three times. Peter’s ‘price’ was “safety.” He feared being exposed and possibly killed, so in essence he valued his own life more than his commitment to Christ.
Determining the price of your faith can at first seem difficult. But really its not that complicated. Simply put, it’s the point at which you choose your way over His. God has given us His written Word so we don’t have to guess what He wants us to do about our attitudes, relationships, behavior or finances. We also have the Holy Spirit and our conscience to guide us in making God-honoring decisions. Anytime we choose to do other than what He instructs, we’ve sold our faith. It can be for safety as in Peter’s case. Or to justify a self-righteous attitude like Jonah did, to cultivate a destructive relationship as King David did in his pursuit of Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), to protect material assets like the Rich Young Ruler (Matt.19:16), or to just do things our way like Eve, Moses, Abraham, and most of the kings of Israel chose to do in one way or the other. In our day, we can always expect to encounter things that we want, but don’t need, experience but don’t understand, and want to change but can’t. These aren’t the times to sell our faith and turn our back on God though. That’s when we need our faith the most so the Lord can help us let go of things that can destroy us and make sense of things that seem senseless.
If you know you’ve unintentionally sold your faith, God is waiting to restore you. Think about Peter again. After the resurrection, he encountered Christ again at the seaside. Instead of chastising his faithlessness, Jesus gently reinstated Peter (John 21:15-21) and commissioned him to be the primary leader in the early church. Peter would go on to preach a powerful message on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41) and write two pivotal books of the New Testament which challenged young Christians (and us today) to endure suffering and be strong in faith and commitment to God. Tradition holds that Peter eventually was crucified rather than deny the Lord again.
Peter failed Jesus, but that wasn’t the end of his story. You’re failures aren’t the end of your story either. He patiently waits to restore you and put you back on the path of greatest growth and impact for His kingdom. But it takes willingness on your part to set aside your own desires and choose to obey and follow Him!