I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of God to make me…pick beets with a migrant.
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
ilbur Rees wrote those words some years ago to illustrate the unspoken sentiment some have as it relates to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Just enough to get by. Just enough to escape the flames. Just enough to keep guilt below the threshold of pain.
Not enough to bring conviction or repentance. Not enough to transform attitudes. Not enough to create a hunger for holiness. Just three dollars’ worth of God.
Jesus made no such offer. Instead, He said:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you (Matt. 7:21-23).
We cannot relegate God to a diminutive role without dreadful consequences. God will be Lord of all or He will not embrace the relationship at all. He did not create us to live out our years fulfilling every whim of our corrupt nature, and then give Him only the dregs of a wasted life. We are to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind (22:37).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor who was martyred for his opposition to the Nazis. He considered taking refuge in the United States, where he was teaching, but he returned to Germany to continue his work in the resistance. He was arrested April 5, 1943, and imprisoned in Berlin.
Three days later, two men came to his cell with a chilling order: “Prisoner Bonhoeffer, come with us.”
He said to a fellow prisoner, “This is the end. For me, the beginning of life.”
The next day, April 9, he was hanged.
In his famous book The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer writes:, “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. . . . Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
Three dollars’ worth of God may bring temporary ecstasy, but it will not produce inward transformation or eternal security. Jesus calls for total surrender. A casual acquaintance is not enough. In His own words:
If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:34-37 NASB).