It’s a personal question, but it’s one that must be asked: What has it cost you to follow Jesus?
This past Sunday I had the privilege of preaching Luke 6.12-26. There Jesus considers those who are poor, hungry, weeping, and rejected as ‘blessed.’ They are to be happy. He even commands them to rejoice!
Why would that be blessed? Doesn’t all of human history testify to our striving as a race to get away from poverty, hunger, weeping, and rejection? Why should these people be happy?
Jesus answers: Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Their future reward is greater in eternity which will never end. They will be comforted, they will laugh, they will be accepted. You see, it’s not the mere notion of poverty that Jesus prizes, but rather the reason for the poverty:
Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!
These people are not blessed because they have nothing; they’re blessed because following Jesus has cost them everything. See the difference? They valued Jesus so much and this world so little that they gave up this world and its passing comforts for the next world and its unfading riches.
Are You One of Them?
Obviously, here in the west, we still live in a time when the comparative cost to following Jesus is much less than it was in other eras (see Adam4d’s graphic rendition of that) and even other places in the world right now. And yet, this reality still stands: the ones to whom the kingdom belongs are, by definition, those people who are willing to suffer loss for the sake of the Son of Man.
Are you one of his people? Does the kingdom belong to you? Do you believe that it’s worth suffering loss?
Two Reasons to Ask
Have you ever asked yourself questions like this?
It’s worth asking: What has it cost me to follow Jesus? What have I had to give up for the sake of being faithful to him?
We’re not all called to become destitute, but if following Jesus in a world that hates him has cost us nothing at all then we should ask again if we’re actually following him at all. The first reason to ask, then, is simple: to determine if you’re actually one of his people.
The second reason is a little more encouraging. If you have given up comfort for Christ, remembering this reality will bring strength to your faith. When I asked myself that question this past week, I was expecting a whole lot of conviction. And I got it. But you know what surprised me? I actually got a lot of encouragement as well.
You see, though I haven’t been martyred or lost my family for the gospel, there is actually a quantifiable, verifiable, well-felt track record in my life of things that my faith has cost me (and our family!).
Sure there are many moments when I’ve chickened out from sharing my faith, and many times when I’ve refrained from acting how I should because I’ve been afraid of the cost. And those are the moments Satan loves to bring to mind. But the truth is that for most of us, even here in the west, there has been a cost.
We’ve given up salary, promotions, vacations, house upgrades, car upgrades. We’ve lost relationships, friends, and the respect of family members. There are people in the world who genuinely dislike us now because of our allegiance to the Son of Man. There are people who hate us for our stand against sin (like the prophets of old).
So what do we do with that? Far from any kind of pride, that kind of recollection ought to bring assurance and hope. The first step to giving up even bigger things is to remember how when we lost these things, God was there. He kept his word. There was sorrow, yes, but there was a deeper joy, grounded in deeper dependence and deepening trust. The more we have known the cost, the more we have known his provision.
So ask the question. Catalogue results. Be convicted or be encouraged, or more likely, be both. But let the question strengthen your faith so that you cast yourself on him more and more.