“Following Jesus comes with a cost.”
I’ll bet reading those words didn’t trigger joy in your heart. Perhaps they left you thinking Wow, that’s a downer. Maybe they filled you with a sense of dread or fear.
We don’t like to think about our faith journey requiring sacrifice. We’d rather think about how it can benefit us: forgiveness of sin, answers to prayer, eternal life and such. But the truth is—following Jesus comes with a cost.
Simon and Andrew were fishing when Jesus saw them and said, “Come, follow Me.” They immediately left their nets and followed Christ (Matthew 4:18-20).
James and John were sitting in their fishing boats, mending their nets with their father when Jesus called to them. “They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind” (Matthew 4:21-22).
For these men, following Jesus meant sacrificing their livelihood (sense of security) and family togetherness. In the latter case, leaving Dad behind may have resulted in misunderstanding. Maybe Dad felt as though his sons had abandoned him in lieu of a religious fanatic.
In 1996, Jesus said, “Follow Me.” For me and my husband, this meant leaving our livelihood (my husband was a civil engineer then), our four-year-old custom-built waterfront home, and our kids’ schools. We put our house on the market, packed our belongings in a U-Haul truck, and followed Him to a Christian camp on a little island off British Columbia’s coast. There we worked without a salary or benefits for 11 years. We invested summers into the lives of our campers, and that meant foregoing vacations with our kids.
In 2007, Jesus said, “Follow Me.” This time it meant leaving the camp and moving to our present location to open the Canadian office for International Messengers. Doing so has meant making sacrifices. Perhaps the most costly has been losing both my father and my father-in-law while we were ministering overseas. Ministry obligations made it impossible for me to attend my father’s funeral, and that’s something I can never redo or regain.
Yes, following Jesus comes with a cost. But I don’t write from my personal experience to flaunt anything. Rather, I share my story to say that, while sacrifice isn’t easy, it’s the least we can do for Jesus and building His kingdom on earth. After all, didn’t He sacrifice His life on our behalf? How then can we withhold anything from Him who gave so much for us?
It’s in our willingness to sacrifice for Christ’s sake that we find joy. The seed must fall into the ground and die to bring forth life and a harvest.
I look forward to 2016 and opportunities for spiritual growth. At the same time, I can already see where following Christ will require sacrifices. For instance, it looks like I’ll spend at least one-fourth of this year overseas, and that means time with my kids and grandkids will be severely limited. Will I follow Him hesitantly as a result? Or will I get up and go willingly, in response for what His love for me cost Him?
In what ways might following Jesus exact a sacrifice from you in 2016? Are you willing to make that sacrifice? Are you willing to make it joyfully?
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