No Discount Pearl
Be prepared, because all of these things will bring you persecution. That’s one thing you should know. That which will draw you nearest to Jesus and to one another is what people will hate you for. They will lie about you. The closer you get to Jesus, the more satan will hate it, and he will try to sabotage you, trip you and hurt you. If we don’t threaten satan then he leaves us alone. The closer we get to what Jesus wants from our lives, the more satan hates us and tries to get revenge. That’s just the way it is.
Jesus said, “If they hated me, they will hate you also” (John 15:20). We don’t like that verse. I don’t like that verse. It breaks my heart, but it’s still true, and I will trade everything for the Pearl of great price. The purchase of the Pearl of great price costs everything. Some of those things are popularity, power, pleasure and reputation—the things that the world craves and lusts after. Your reputation will be ruined by the truths we’ve talked about today. People will lie about you behind your back and make-believe that you’re a terrible person. Jesus said, “They did that to Me. Accept it. No man is greater than his teacher. If they did that to Me, they will do it to you, also.”
When He was walking His last steps in physical form on this earth, the women were crying and weeping over Him and He said, “Don’t weep for Me. Weep for yourself and your children, because if they do this when the tree is green, how much more when it is mature?” (Luke 23:31)
In other words, He was only the very start of this whole thing that is very unlike all the world religions. It is based on relationship, not on attendance. It is based on intimacy with God and with one another. It is not based on hired clergy men and attending a building. That is not Christianity. You can be a Christian and “attend” something, but that’s not the Church Jesus wants to build. That may be a beginning step—a little stepping-stone toward what Jesus is trying to build.
Jesus said, “We’re just barely beginning this whole thing. I’m just one man at the very beginning of this thing called Christianity, and if they will do this to Me now, how much more will things happen when the tree matures?” He is referring to us! “I planted a tree and was only the first fruits, so how much more will they hate you? Don’t weep for Me. Weep for yourself and your children,” is what He said.
There will be difficult times ahead if you embrace Truth that threatens satan. If you don’t threaten him, he’ll leave you alone. If you let your teens and children go wild and don’t take away any of his territory, then he’ll not bother you. He is glad if you are religious because it keeps you busy. But if you start to be involved in each other’s lives, and start to take territory away from satan by saving those children and marriages and lives around you, satan will be angry. His time is short. He will be furious at you, and you will suffer because he will attack you in ways that will break your heart.
It doesn’t typically come in the form of your house burning down or getting sick or losing your job. It is more likely to be that someone you love will stab you in the back—like Judas who betrayed Jesus with a kiss. There’s nothing more painful than being betrayed by someone for whom you’ve poured out your life. That’s what we have to look forward to, and the Scriptures say we should rejoice when we’re counted worthy to suffer for His name—it’s a privilege, but it’s hard. We’re counted worthy to suffer for His name (1Pet. 4:13-14). I, myself, like to whine and complain when I suffer. You guys don’t have to be that way. I’m trying to grow up so I won’t do that anymore. The pain and the betrayal will happen. We need to be ready for it if we’re going to go deep and far on this path; satan will hate and oppose it.
Some people will try to make excuses about Acts 2 and other Scriptures, such as “Admonish one another daily…be called alongside one another every day, so that none will be hardened and deceived by sin.” A lot of people hate that verse. They try to pretend that it’s not there because they don’t want to obey it.
“Oh, well God didn’t mean every day.”
“Well, then why did God say, ‘Every day’? Why did God say if we don’t admonish each other every day we’ll be hardened and deceived?”
“Oh, that’s not really true and doesn’t apply to me. It can just be me and my prayer life, and I can do whatever I want, whatever is right in my own eyes. I can be a ‘good Christian on my own.’ I won’t be hardened and deceived.”
“Why did God say you will be hardened and deceived? Are you smarter than God? Are you more spiritual than God? I’m not! I believe that if God said it, then it’s true.”
Anybody else with me on that one?
If God said it, it’s true. He said we need each other.
I’m going that way. And if nobody wants to live that way, I’m going anyway. Shoot me if you want, hang me, throw me off a cliff. God said it—I’m going to do that! And if you want to have that heart too, then Welcome! It’s our own personal decision though.
Everybody has to decide for themselves if they want to rip pages out of the Bible and pretend they’re still a follower of Jesus. I don’t want to do that. I want the whole thing. I want all that God has, and I want to do it His way, for His sake, no matter what it costs me. The Pearl of great price costs everything! Most people want to negotiate the price. They want to trade a little and cut some corners and try to get a “discount pearl.” But that is not Jesus’ heart. Jesus Himself didn’t do that, did He? He went the whole way, and that’s what we want to do together. We want to help each other with it, because none of us is able to do it by ourselves.
That’s really the whole point. If you want to do it God’s way, we need to help each other. We’re not going to do it separately from each other—we’re going to do it together. Many people hate this message because they have power they want to protect. They have wealth or influence to protect. They are trying to sell or market or “start” something. They want to control people. They want something for themselves, so this message is unattractive to them. They don’t want people to live like this because it ruins everything. But God says it is the only way.
Three thousand baby Christians immediately knew they needed to live the way we are describing. They shared life together and didn’t just show up at a meeting and then go home to their own lives. The 3000 baby Christians knew it was that important because of the apostolic teaching around them. They knew from men who walked side-by-side with Jesus, that you lived the Christian life this way because you need each other. If they knew that, then surely we can know that, embrace that, and live in that also.