things that matter should cost us
So, I’ve had this floating in my head for a few weeks now, haven’t really had time to get it down on paper yet for various reasons (and you know, there’s that whole new baby thing happening around the house too), but I want to get it down, because I want to think through it, flesh it out, and make it something I live from. (ps, I know 2 people occasionally read what I write, but for me, writing is a form of thinking/accountability for myself. I just leave it out there for you to view too.)
Here’s the thought (spoiler alert, the title tipped my cards):If something we do/believe/say/trust doesn’t cost us something, it’s not true/worth our time, and we are likely doing it wrong. (I leave this broad, b/c I want to flesh it out beyond the theological argument later, b/c it’s turned into something bigger than that)
For me, this began bubbling up when thinking about my theology & conversations I’ve had with friends lately about following Jesus. This conversation hinges a lot on the relational/program driven tension. In other words, we seem to fall into throwing money/structures/programs at needs rather than seeing needs as people. We see needs, and address issues, but don’t get to know the people in need. We don’t know their heart, their struggles, don’t walk with them into a better place. We simply give them a bag of food so we feel better about ourselves, and better that they won’t be hungry for the week.
The more I follow Jesus, and the more I lean into really believing in the Kingdom of God, I am reminded and challenged over and over that it is made up of flesh and blood, dirt and sweat, grit and beauty. Like a wood shop full of scraps, sawdust, and jagged blades, as well as finished pieces or pieces in progress, all of which look beautiful. It’s the sound, sight, & smell of taking something rough & destroying it, chopping off pieces of it, taking grit and sweat to it and sanding it into something smooth. The Kingdom is made up of scraps of us, our mess, worthless pieces that have been lobbed off, and ultimately, some beautiful things that are being completed in time. And I read through things like Philippians 3, which is often reduced to something that fits all cute on a t-shirt/greeting card/random crap that a junk store would carry, I realize we’ve got it all wrong.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…”
(Ph 3:8, but seriously, read from verse 1. The whole thing is good)
And here’s the tension: it’s easy to read that and say “oh, yipee Jesus! I’ll sacrifice everything (like a couple hours a weekend) for you (as I hop in my gas guzzler to hit a drive thru on my way to go shopping), and not really mean it. Or to think it means, I make Christ a priority and He will (in essence) reimburse me for my time & effort somehow.
I think all of that is utter crap.
Here is where I feel the pull. To suffer the loss of all things means I need to know that following Jesus should cost me something.
It means that I scrap my selfish tendency, and make every effort to be fully present when I am at home (and I list this first because I suck at it & need accountability).
It means that I make a conscious effort to be more patient with my kids, even though I want to overpower when they argue with each other and force them to act how I think they should (which I also suck at, but am trying to improve quickly).
With my kids, it also means that I actively make a choice to enjoy tiring things with them (like playing in the back yard after a 10 hour day, or helping get them to sleep, etc), because I won’t always have that chance, and there may be something massively important in making that decision that means the world to them.
Or that if I see/hear about a place that is close by, doing important work that I think matters (click that sentence, it’s a link) and more importantly matters to the Kingdom, I should find a way to get involved, even if it’s as simple as knowing what is going on, and being aware of ways I can help.
It means that when my wife requests something, regardless of how minor/major it is, I act on it. Period. And that’s everything from saving her from getting up when she’s tired and doing something with our new infant son to big decisions like school stuff, things in the family that need attention, anything. If it’s something she thinks needs attention, I act on it. Not consider and maybe get to it. Hear the need, respond to the need. (As she’s one of my 2 occasional readers, she’ll tell you I need lots of accountability in this too)
Come to think of it, hearing a need and responding to it should be something I (or we) do in general. All the time.
What’s great is, as this is sitting in my head/heart shaping my theology, it’s shaping my day to day values/dreams/aspirations too. More on that for another time, but it’s not just how I follow Jesus. I find it in what I buy, what I value, who I value, how I spend my time, my work ethic, etc. It’s an all encompassing thing rather than a theological platitude.
I tend to think that’s the beauty of the Gospel really. We sit in it, it shapes how we view God & how God views us, but then it shifts and spins and (like a saw blade cutting a big piece of wood) it cuts off the slough, and we find that our view of the truth is far too small, and that the Gospel is about every aspect of our lives, not just how we feel about God.
Enough rambling from me for now. But chew on this: If following Jesus was to cost you something, what would it cost? What do you think He would ask of you? Are you doing that thing currently? Maybe you should be.