How Much Will This Cost Me?
I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. Romans 9:3
We recently watched a superhero movie in which two of the main characters literally fought each other to see who would get to sacrifice their own lives to save the world. They both believed so desperately in their cause that they attempted to save each other as they tried to sacrifice themselves. In watching, I put myself in the fictitious situation, thinking about how I’d behave. I actually felt a little guilty, knowing that I’d probably let the other one make the sacrifice.
The problem is that I like my life and I don’t want to give it up. I think, if it came down to it, I’d die for my family. Beyond that though, I’m not sure. Thankfully, I’m not often asked to die for anyone, but still, I don’t naturally enjoy sacrificing for others. I like my time, my stuff, and my money, and I desire to retain control over those things. So, when God says I should love my neighbor as I love myself, I want to know just how much that will cost me.
In today’s passage, Paul said he wished he could sacrifice his own life and relationship with Christ, accepting eternal damnation, for his fellow Jews who didn’t know Christ. Paul, in pursuing Jesus, became so much like him, that he too was willing to give up everything for others.
I want to know Christ and his transforming power, but Paul’s willingness to sacrifice himself reveals how far I have yet to go. I still love myself much more than I love those around me. I probably won’t be asked to die for my neighbor, but I’m selfish enough that I don’t even want to give up my weekend for him.
Most of us can identify. We believe in God and we call ourselves Christians, but when asked to make some sacrifice of time or money for those around us, we’d prefer someone else do it. We’d rather keep our stuff and we’d prefer not to get our hands dirty.
Our relationship with God though is founded on sacrificial love. If we accept that love, calling ourselves followers of Christ, then we must seek to obey as he asks that we love others as we love ourselves. Instead of asking, How much will this cost me? We should be asking, How can I love and obey?