It seems my ongoing theme this year is "Salvation is free but relationship costs. It costs to be a follower of Jesus". We have it stuck in our thought process that everything is free with our God but he has always demanded the highest from those who decide to belong to him. A wrong understanding of grace has gotten us to the point where people think they can do whatever they want and still claim to be Christian; still claim to love Jesus. Do you want to know the truth?
Let's start back in the Old Testament:
"You must be holy and keep yourselves holy because I am the Lord your God. You will keep my rules and do them; I am the Lord, who makes you holy." (Leviticus 20:7-8)
Now before we get defensive here, we need to keep in mind that Yahweh gave Israel the choice to be his people or to reject him. He told them - these are my laws; if you choose to be my nation you must keep them. They choose to be his nation and became accountable to the Law. Of themselves, they were incapable of being a holy people, but Yahweh pronounced they were holy and he made them holy through his Law. It was a very high standard.
Of course, we are not Israel, but we are the Body of Christ. We are not under this holy and perfect law, instead we are under God's grace. But that does not mean it does not come with very high standards. To be under grace we had to make a decision to accept the Salvation Jesus offered and to become a disciple of Jesus; to belong to him. We follow him so we are obedient to him. This not out of obligation to a law other than the law of love. We love him because he first loved us. We obey him because we love him.
This relationship demands a lot:
"All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me." (Matthew 16:24)
I am not sure many of us can grasp the standard to which we are held. It is a standard of love that demands the full attention of our heart, mind, soul, body and strength. It is a standard that expects us to overcome the attraction of sin by the power that love has placed in us. It is a standard that demands us to set aside all interest in ourselves for the sake of Jesus and for all those whom he loves; saved and unsaved. It is a love that says "It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me". Wow, read that again. If we grasped even a small understanding of this it would transform our daily living.
We have been called to a higher standard than we are currently living and it is grace that empowers us to get there. Maybe that would be a great place to start, the understanding of the empowerment of God's grace. Then perhaps a grasp of our death and life in Christ. Then we could move on to our obligation to love. Do be satisfied with gaining knowledge; go deeper in relationship.