What Will This Cost Me?
We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. 1 Corinthians 4:13
We all wear many different hats and we all play various roles in our lives, some more important than others. We’re spouses and parents. We’re employees or business owners. We’re on school boards or we may belong to a certain church or political party. Some of these attachments are central to who we are, and other roles are peripheral.
Whenever someone asks me to join yet another cause or organization, my first question is usually, What will this cost me? I like my time and money and I want to keep those things, so, I protect them. The less commitment I must make, the easier it is to say yes to something. Soon, I’ve got my name peripherally involved in all kinds of clubs and organizations.
For a lot of us, our faith falls into yet another club to which we belong. It doesn’t cost anything to call a church our home church. We don’t earn God’s love with our behavior. It’s free, and so we can join the Christian club with nothing but a thought. I believe, therefore I’m a Christian. When something costs us nothing though, we often don’t truly value it.
There are places in the world where it costs a lot to call yourself a Christian. In many countries, claiming faith in Christ would make you an outcast and might even put your life in peril. This was Paul’s experience of which he spoke in today’s passage. In it, he wrote that, because of his faith in and obedience to Christ, he’d been reviled, persecuted, and slandered.
Most of us haven’t had that experience. We live in a culture that is relatively friendly to church membership. So, belonging to the Christian club is largely free from sacrifice. The problem of course, is that we misunderstand the level of commitment that it takes to truly follow Christ. Because God’s love is free, we think that faith costs us nothing.
God doesn’t desire peripheral commitment, however. He wants all of us. In Luke 9:23, Jesus said that if anyone would be his disciple, they must take up their cross daily, dying to themselves to follow him. Authentic faith costs us everything as we learn to abandon who we’ve been to become who we’re supposed to be. The cost seems high, until we begin to see that it’s only in our radical commitment that we find the blessed life we’ve been looking for all along. Paradoxically, it’s only in surrendering all, that we gain everything.