Blog, Living in the Abundance of Christ

Counting the Cost

I am loyal. Once I find something I like, I stick with it…forever, or until it breaks. This is true with people, and with things. For instance, I used Maybelline Mascara Blackest Black from the time I was 16 until last summer when I switched to 100% Pure make-up. I only switched because of the quality of ingredients in the new mascara. Sure, over the years I tried several different mascaras, but I always went back to that one, like an old friend.

Recently, I bought a new pair of tweezers. I know you’re thinking, “Big deal!” But I have had my old, faithful tweezers since I was pregnant with my younger son (who turned 15 several months ago). It was time. I knew this for the last couple months as I tried tirelessly to use those decrepid tweezers. For some reason I had it in my head that new tweezers would not be as good as my old, faithful tweezers. Well, T.J. Maxx and $2.99 (plus tax) proved me wrong, as I easily and painlessly tweezed my eyebrows.

I thought to myself, “Why have I waited so long to buy new tweezers?!” And I started to wonder what other things in my life I held onto, long past the time I should have let them go (Yes, this is how I think). An old habit, an attitude, a belief, or an ideal. Things I do because I’m used to doing it and it’s comfortable. I do these things, and keep doing them, because it feels like they’re part of me. Like somehow these things make up my identity.

I realized something several years ago that disturbed me, and that is, people do the same type of thing with Christianity. They know the language, they have their routine and religious practices, and they feel morally good for doing these things. But, they don’t always do them because they have a love and affection for Christ, they do them because that’s what they’ve always done. They’ve been a “Christian”. They’ve lived a “Christian” life.

I remember one particular incident when I was talking to a woman at church. This woman had attended this church long before I had, and continued to come faithfully every Sunday. Many of her family members came too. It was what they did. She brought up a famous T.V. preacher that she enjoyed watching; he always had a “feel good” message. This is also a preacher that our Pastor had spoken out against on many occasions for his un-biblical and misleading views. I stood there astonished, thinking, “Have you been listening to anything our Pastor has been saying?!” and “Can you not hear the fault in the T.V. preacher’s message?” That’s when it hit me, this person comes to church because that’s what they’ve always done. It was a habit, like going to the grocery store. Only, this habit, gave the illusion of salvation.

Being a Christian is not something you inherit. It isn’t something you do, because you’ve always done it. It is an active relationship with Christ. Not born of our own will, but of Christ’s. Being a Christian means change. Christ in me, changes me. Christ in us, changes us. Period. If it doesn’t, then maybe you need to start asking yourself if Christ really lives in you. It is not just an outward, superficial change, where you go to church religiously and you stopped swearing (at least in front of anyone that matters), and of course you do random acts of kindness for strangers (which you promptly share on Facebook). No.

Christ changes you from the inside out. What you used to do, you stop doing, because to do it causes pain. Not being obedient makes you feel so uncomfortable that you repent and turn from your sin, as your soul longs for Christ. To know him more. To be closer to him. To love the things that he loves, and hate what he hates.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26

I’m not a fan of Dr. Phil, at all (I think he’s turned into a modern form of Jerry Springer), but I remember something he said many years ago when he first came on the scene. It was, “There are no sacred cows.” It’s an interesting metaphor for idolatry, especially coming from someone who is, seemingly, secular. What it means is: there’s nothing we get to keep back, nothing that is off-limits. In our relationship with Christ, there is nothing that we get to keep back from him. No areas of our lives that won’t be touched. No sin, or Indulgence, or thought, that he will not hold us accountable for. When your life is given to Christ, you forfeit whatever life you thought you wanted. Your life no longer belongs to you, but to Christ.

Being a Christian comes at a cost. It is not something that we put on like mascara, or use like tweezers. It is not a habit that we pick up or lay down when it’s convenient. Christ in us becomes the very essence of who we are, what we think, and what we say. In our current culture, there is growing a greater divide between those who will proclaim the gospel of Christ, giving up their very lives for him, and those who want the benefits of the Christian life, without the obedience that it requires.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:26-28

If there’s no cost to your Christianity, then please don’t call yourself a Christian. You can call yourself many other things, but Christian is not one of them.

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