Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 24

What I Read Today: Luke 13 & 14.

What Stood Out About What I Read Today: Luke 14: 25-31, “Now large crowds were accompanying Jesus, and turning to them he said, ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t sit down first and compute the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish the tower, all who see it will begin to make fun of him. They will say, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish!’ Or what king, going out to confront another king in battle, will not sit down first and determine whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?”

Random Thoughts About What I Read:

I admit I kind of had a chip on my shoulder.

See, at my church we’d had 3 consecutive hires who’d left very successful jobs in corporate America to come and work for us. There’s no question they’d each bring a certain set of skills and disciplines and ways of thinking that would’ve helped our church in numerous ways. Like I said, they’d each done very well in their chosen fields and there was a reason for that.

But I kind of got tired of hearing them be lauded for their decision.

“Look at all the prestige they’re giving up.
“Look at the amount of money they’re walking away from.”
“Look at how noble they’re being.”
“Look at how much money they’ll lose over time in their retirement plan.”
“Look at how much they’ll be downsizing.”

So, I had a little bit of a pity party.

I mean, I certainly didn’t get into the youth ministry game for the prestige of it. Sure, it looks cool to teenagers, but even in Christian circles we tend to be viewed as the low man on the totem pole.
I mean, I certainly didn’t get into the youth ministry game because of the huge upside in the pay-scale.
I mean, I didn’t feel very noble because it was simply the reality that this is how God gifted me and so I did what I was supposed to be doing.
I mean, I never had a retirement plan until a few years after I started working in my current job.
I mean, my family gave up all sorts of types of homes and fashion and lifestyles simply be being related to me.

In other words, I was looking at the cost they had to pay vs. the cost me & my family had to pay and it didn’t seem at all like it was adding up. I’m sure you see the pride in my own life as plainly as I do now when I read it. But at the time it was my true feelings after hearing friends give my friends all this credibility when I felt like I’d made those same choices 20 years ago. Nobody seemed to praise me when I did it then. And I didn’t even have the two decades of earning power and retirement vestiture and insurance plans to fall back on. My Golden Handcuffs were always tied to whatever “jewels in my crown” I was supposed to be getting.

But then I realized…THESE were the costs I was counting to follow Christ.

I’d never missed a meal.
I’d never gone without a roof over my head.
I’d never had issues with clothing (other than poor fashion sense).

And I think about my brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world who struggle for those very things. Churches without Bibles…or even limited availability to get only one book. Pastors being gunned down in their very church buildings. Brothers and sisters who are kicked out of their families for their choice to follow Christ. Jail time for others. Beatings for some. Sneaking into and out of worship to avoid all the above. I could go on.

And the reality of it all is that the truth of the matter is that my costs to follow Christ seem to very limited by comparison. In fact, just the opposite is true: I tend to get varying degrees of encouragement for my choice to follow Christ. And I’m certainly blessed.

No, I won’t feel guilty or feel as if my Christian experience is somehow lessened by my suburban pastorate and the blessings that tend to come alongside that.

But I will make it a point to keep those around the world in my thoughts and prayers…

…and I will make it a point to be a lot more thankful that whatever costs (if any) I’ve truly paid for following Christ have been kept to a minimum.

And be humbled by God’s grace and mercy to me and my family.

(Tomorrow’s Reading: Luke 15 & 16)