Your words have not left me and have ripped my heart in two. I have replayed them over and over in my mind:
“You have no idea how hard this is mom…trying to be a Christian in today’s world at my age.”
As I sat staring at your brown eyes flooded with tears, for a moment I saw that little three-year old boy who always raised his hand first to pray.
The little boy who grew up learning, knowing, and singing about Jesus. That little boy who is now sixteen and grappling with the pain and the cost of being a Christ follower.
As I listened, I sat there feeling helpless with my own tears searing my throat. I wanted to be able to console you with an easy answer but how could I, when I myself have cried out in frustration the same thing to God:
“You have no idea how hard this is to follow you God when…”
As I think about your words I wonder if what you were really asking me is: “Is He worth it Mom, is Jesus worth what He said it would cost us?”
The word on the street is the church is becoming like a business.
If that is true, the question I’m asking myself is what brand of Christianity am I buying or selling? What do I believe about the gospel and most importantly, what am I showing you and your brother?
My friend sent me a promo video the other day of a church and asked me this question: “Is this a church or a nightclub?”
In the video the church offered all the bells and whistles.
Coffee bar, awesome lights, and music. I think they even had a smoke machine. Now, I’m not saying these things are wrong, (I’ve drunk the coffee and bought the t-shirt) but I’m wondering in our attempt to be relevant in our culture if we at times are cheapening the gospel.
We want to bribe others into following Christ without telling them the whole truth. We want to prove following Jesus is cool, totally awesome, and won’t cost much.
Hear me son, Christ never manipulated others into following Him.
He never gave a cheap sales gimmick. He made it very clear this was going to cost us everything. In fact, He even told us to consider the cost before making our decision to follow Him. (Luke 14:28)
And I agree with you, following Christ in this generation is brutal. Our world is telling us to live off of what looks, feels, and sounds good to benefit us.
And then there is Jesus who bids us to come, follow Him, and die to self. To pick up a cross and bear it until we meet Him face to face.
So for myself, has He been worth it?
The truth is absolutely, but, don’t let that fool you into thinking I haven’t weighed or felt the cost. Many times I have resented it, bargained, and tried to lower the price of following Him.
I have appeared Super-Christian, done all the “religious things” while unrepentant sin lurked in my heart.
I’ve held onto offenses, repaid evil for evil, and found out twenty thousand times He was right all along, that the wages of sin are death.
I’ve settled at times for fake, shallow community because I did not want the high price tag of being exposed, hurt, or held accountable for my sin.
I’ve traded in Jesus my First Love, for ministry and in the name of “doing things” for Him instead of just spending time with Him.
So, with all of that being said– here’s what I know with every fiber of my being. Every single time I have traded Jesus in for a cheap, self-serving substitute, I’m left empty and craving the real thing:
And I go running back to His word, truth, healing, and extravagant love and freedom every. single. time.
Jesus said to consider the cost, so please do.
Read His words written in red. But read all of them, not just the ones which our itching ears crave to hear. And know this: if following Jesus does not cost you your comfort, unhealthy relationships, time, ego, bitterness and secret sins, then ask yourself:
What false gospel am I buying into?
You will find God’s economy is not like the worlds, yes, it will cost us everything, yet the returns are LIFE.
Not just eternal life in Heaven, an abundant life here and now. A life full of promise, purpose, and passion.
Keep your eyes and ears open son.
Get around people who are not just drinking free coffee and wearing the t-shirt, but are repenting of their sin, bearing fruit, loving others, and living free and whole.
My greatest prayer for you and your brother is you won’t just play church and follow rules. My greatest prayer is you will fall madly in love and have a sacred romance with the Lover of Your Soul.
I pray that when you go and chase after other lovers, (and you will), like the prodigal son you will run home to your Father. And when you run home it won’t just be because you’re broke or made bad decisions.
It will be because you realized knowing Christ is the prize.
One glorious day you and I will leave this earth and finally get to see Jesus face to face.
And with our first glimpse of Him the last thing on our minds will be if He was worth it. All we will be able to do is fall on our faces, cast our crowns, weep, and sing along with the angels:
“Worthy, worthy, is the lamb who was slain.”
The lamb who taught us a love worth having is a love worth dying and sacrificing for.
(image source: canstockphoto.com)