One afternoon while I was sewing I had the radio on and happened to catch an interview with Rosario Butterfield about her book, Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith. I haven't read the book, but there was one part of the interview that I have continued to think about for months afterwards. As Ms. Butterfield was contemplating choosing to follow Jesus, she was speaking with the pastor of the church she had been attending about the fact that she felt she would have to give up too much in order to follow Jesus. She felt as though her experience was unique and that probably no one else in the congregation had to give up as much as she would. The pastor challenged her to go ask them. Go ask people what they had given up in order to follow Christ.
At this point I admit to losing track of what was on the radio because I wondered what I would say if someone asked me this question. Have I had to give up, sacrifice something I felt was really important and valuable to follow Jesus? At the face of it, it seemed like an easy decision. Both sides of my family have been faithful Christians for generations. I did not have to face the disapproval, much less condemnation of my family to take this path. In fact it was the opposite... following Jesus is a high family value. I live in a country where there is freedom to follow whatever religion you want. No one is going to come knocking on my door and take me away to prison for being Christian. My family is not in danger of their lives because they are Christian. I've never even lost a friend because I am Christian. I could make the argument could be made that my decision to follow Jesus was cost-free.
As I thought about it more, I realized this is not exactly true. There are certain decisions that J. and I have made that have come about specifically because of following Jesus. The result of those decisions have certainly not been cost free. There have been some extremely difficult and trying times. These decisions do affect our entire lives and there are certainly things we do without because of those decisions. And while this may be true, it is also true that the decisions have not been all negative and we have received much blessing from them. When you feel this way, it is difficult to see something as a loss.
As I said it is a question that somewhat haunts me. Others have given up so much to follow Jesus. The more you give up for something, the more you value what you gave it up for. I'm not looking for answers or even fishing for compliments; I'm merely sharing the things that linger in my thoughts. It's not really a matter of whether a person does enough or not. Jesus doesn't have a list of things one must do to receive His love and approval. It is more a matter of ultimate value. What is really the most important thing to me? To what lengths am I willing to go for that thing? Do you wrestle with the same thoughts?
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it." Matthew 13: 44-46 (ESV)
What has it cost you?