Our church has just completed Vacation Bible School. VBS is always a lot of fun and a lot of work. But at the end of the day it is always worth the effort and this year was no exception.
The theme of this year’s VBS was God’s Love. Bible lessons each day focused on different aspects of God’s love. For example the first day we looked at the idea that God’s love is a gift (Romans 6:23). The setting for our VBS was built around the Apostle Paul’s imprisonment in Rome and the early church which was forced to meet in secret.
The idea of God’s love being a free gift was presented by Paul who, bound in chains to a Roman guard, was in prison because of his faith in God’s love. After meeting with Paul, the kids moved on to the next station where they were introduced to two first century Roman citizens who had accepted this gift of God’s love through faith in Jesus Christ. But, because of their faith, they were persecuted.
The children were told that Christians in Rome could not meet openly. So they met in secret places like the catacombs. So there in the dark catacombs under Rome the kids were told what it was like to be a first century Christian and how they suffered because of their faith.
Down through the centuries, Christians have suffered and died for their faith, for this free gift of God’s love. Even today, around the world thousands of Christians risk their lives each day for their faith. According to a Wikipedia article on the persecution of Christians in the two thousand years since Christ, about 70 million believers, of whom 45.5 million or 65% lived in the twentieth century, have been killed for their faith.
This week Fox News reported that an Ohio teen who converted from Islam to Christianity ran away from home because of threats from her own family to kill her because of her conversion.
God’s love is free, but sometimes God’s love will cost us because God’s love will change us (Romans 12:2). While it might not cost us our lives literally it will cause us to die to the old way of life (Ephesians 4:22-23). It might cost me a job if an employer asks me to do something that is not pleasing to God. It might cost me a relationship that I now see as unhealthy and sinful. It might cost me a habit that I like because I now see it as a sin and something that blocks me from experiencing the full love of God.
God’s love is free but it is not cheap. God’s love is given to us at a great cost to God—it cost God His Son. It is not cheap—it has been handed down to us through the generations at the cost of those who have given their lives to share their faith. God’s love is not cheep—it demands that we give it away to others no matter what is might cost us personally. Are you ready to count the cost and stay faithful? By His grace may we all be ready.
*Published in the Ashland Times Gazette, 8.14.09