The Cost, Part 1: Count the cost.
For the Japanese to join Jesus, it means leaving their own family, their culture and everything familiar. For tribal Africans it may mean physical banishment from their clan and thus even deeper poverty than before. In North Africa it may cost your job and any possible livelihood. In Sudan, it may well cost your life.
As I read Jesus say, “Count the cost” in one of my eight Bibles in five language not to mention the Bible apps on my laptop and phone, I prop my feet up and sit my tea. And wonder, “What cost?”
Is it the cost of feeling guilty if I miss church? Or the dirty look someone gave me when I demonstrated in support of the unborn? Or feeling as if people think I have no brain because I believe this Bible? Maybe it’s the financial cost of tithing my ten percent, though I hardly even notice it missing.
Then I saw someone caught in sin. I tried to clarify what I perceived but to my gentle questions, she fought back with angry, bitter words. Though she was clearly acting counter to the Bible, her smooth ways with people snowed them. And they believed her when she smeared my name to all who would listen to her woes. When I asked church leadership to speak to her with me, in accordance with the Bible’s direction, they too shied away.
And the road they followed her down killed all the women’s ministry in the church. Satan smiled at the division among believers.
I continued bumbling down the road of victory interspersed with failure, only to experience it again: Christ-followers choosing personal feelings, wants and comfort over the clear direction of Scripture. Only this time it became a cancer that threatened entire families, tore marriages apart and fomented a church split. All because someone didn’t deal with an issue when it became an issue, but instead chose the road of gossip.
As I browsed Amazon for my latest want, it occurred to me what our cost is here in the wealthy, independent West. Not hunger. Not poverty. Not leaving our culture and family. It is leaving the emotional armchair to resolve our differences with others who share the same Spirit.
The Cost, Part 2. Don’t pay this cost.
You see, there is a cost either way.
I heard a poor wife gossip about her husband and I said nothing. I witnessed a man refusing to tithe even as an elder of his church. But I stayed in my emotional armchair, blending into the culture of personal comfort and lying to myself that this was between them and God.
Years passed. The woman became a bitter divorcee, her children far from Jesus. The man gave ever more of his life to making a buck until he ran off with his secretary and turned his back on God.
More years passed and I stood before God. Before He spoke, He pointed at those two poor souls crying out from across the great chasm. “These were your brothers and sisters, with whom you shared my Spirit. Why did you not help them when I let you see their weakness?” He asked. “You see, I designed it so that you’d help each other. Keep each other safe from those fires. But you chose your own emotional comfort. ‘Grace and peace,’ you called it.
“You refused to pay the cost. Now they do.”