I was reading Oswald Chambers this morning and he said something that really made me think. The passage deals with this poor random guy carrying Jesus’ cross. Well… okay… it was actually our cross, but still. The passage above is an interesting one in its own regard, but out of it he reminded me of an interesting anomaly in the Christian life. This is the passage to which I am referring;
“If we obey God it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the sting comes in. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything, it is a delight, but it costs those who do not love Him a good deal. If we obey God it will mean that other people’s plans are upset, and they will gibe us with it—‘You call this Christianity?’ We can prevent the suffering; but if we are going to obey God, we must not prevent it, we must let the cost be paid.”
What an interesting concept. Our faith could be costly to someone else.
I remember when I was in college I worked with a guy who happened to be a really great guy. We had worked to with each other for some time and on this particular occasion, through what we happened to be doing, he ended up dropping a rather heavy item on his foot. We have all been there, and likewise, we perhaps end up saying something that we regret. This coworker of mine let out a yell with some unusual but not so uncommon colorful metaphors. Immediately, this guy looked at me and with a red face began to apologize profusely for what he had said. Why did he do this? This is the question I asked him. His answer was that he knew that I wasn’t the type to talk that way. I had not asked him not to swear, we had not had a conversation about it, but he knew enough about me to know that I didn’t talk that way and so when he was around me neither did he. After this little incident which was one of many of its type, a thought struck me. How inconvenient it is for him to completely change the way he spoke simply because of me.
We perhaps think of our own relationship with God with respect to what it costs us. I for one will admit that I do not always have the attitude of following Christ with “delight”, but this is a heart issue and it comes with struggles and victories in our lives. I think that we rarely think of our relationship with Christ as costing or discomforting someone else. The fact is that it very well may. This is particularly the case with people who are close to us who do not share our values or faith. We must proceed in our relationship with Christ at discomfort, cost, and exasperation to those around us. The reason that we do it is because we love God the most. This introduces us to a fundamental struggle in following Christ that asks us a poignant question. Would I rather follow Christ or make people around me happy? There is a point in which we have to make this decision. Remember Jesus’ outline for the Christian’s life? In Matthew 26 Jesus tells us that we should have two priorities.
1. Love God above everything
2. Love others above yourself
The problem is that sometimes loving God means that we choose God rather than choosing other relationships, rather than fitting in to particular crowds, rather than walking the same direction as the people that we love. As with many things in the Christian life, this is not easy. Still, God gives us the grace in our lives to make it happen and makes it completely worth it. Jesus tells us the great cost of following Christ in Luke.
26 “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. -Lk 14:26
Hating is not complete it is comparative. We should love God to the exclusion of the incompatible. When the rich young ruler comes to Jesus and asks how to enter into God’s kingdom, Jesus’ response is that he must give everything to follow God. At this answer the rich young ruler responded with an easily recognizable distress wondering who if anyone could enter the kingdom of God. This is Jesus’ response;
26 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible… 29 Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. -Mk 10:26–30
Not only does God give us the ability to make the tough call in following Christ, but He makes it completely worth it. Love God no matter the cost or discomfort to those around us, because its that important.
 Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).