From time to time, it’s a good idea to count the personal cost of following Jesus, of being a kingdom-of-God sort of person. Greg Pierce gives us categories to think about.
Material/economic life. Following Jesus means that we simply won’t have as much stuff for ourselves. Why? Because the Christian life involves giving—to those who need food and shelter, to programs and projects in church and elsewhere that make life better for others. This means that we might not save as much as quickly to buy a better car or to get new cabinets in the kitchen. It means that sometimes we actually do without something in order to give to someone else—such as the Lenten practice of giving up a meal or meals and sending the money we would have spent on that food to other people who are hungry.
Social life. Unless our entire life is spent around people who are just like us, we will pay socially for being kingdom-of-God people. If we don’t join in the gossip at the workplace, then coworkers will label us as stuck-up and self-righteous. If we insist upon treating others with respect, regardless of their appearance, race, or income, then some folks will call us bleeding hearts or do-gooders. If we are willing to speak up about moral issues, even in a gentle way, to support a better life for all, then automatically people stick us in the category of the close-minded.
Religious life. Jesus upset religious people. So did Peter and Paul, Stephen and so many unnamed Christians in the first-century world. They upset the status quo just as the prophets of Old Testament times had done. Sooner or later, we will have to stand up to a teacher or a leader who is harming people through skewed teaching or power-hungry actions. For some people, that kind of speaking up will cost them their jobs—or at least will see them transferred to an out-of-the-way place where they can’t bother anybody important.
Lent is a good time to ask ourselves, What is it costing me to participate in the kingdom of God?
Look at the three categories above and count the cost in your own life.