So, are you in or out?
In just a few days time we’ll be asked to vote on that very question: do we stay within the EU or do we vote to leave?
Whatever the merits of each case (and there obviously are positives on both sides), what has struck me is the way that neither side will admit to there being any downside to their position, while at the same time refusing to concede for a moment that the other side has any merit. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that both sides are asking us to take a leap into the dark.
Jesus on the other hand is very open about the costs and benefits of following him. In fact, when people are rushing to join his campaign he tells them to stop and count the cost. In Luke 14 Jesus says this:
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?”
Likewise Jesus says:
“If anyone would come after me he must take up his cross, deny himself and follow me.”
To his first hearers the idea of ‘taking up a cross’ would have meant just one thing: death. But although many of Jesus’ followers then and around the world today still face death for being a Christian, Jesus isn’t saying that physical death will result from trusting him. His point is that if we follow him we will face hardships and struggles of various kinds. For example, we will often find obeying his commands hard because following Jesus will mean changes to our lifestyle and how we use our talents, our time and our resources, and we will find that friends and family may laugh at our faith or disown us. That’s the cost, Jesus says. He’s upfront about it. He doesn’t want anyone to think that in this life being a Christian won’t come at a cost.
But he’s also very clear about the benefits. Those who trust in Jesus and follow him find full and free forgiveness, a peace that the world cannot give, a purpose and contentment in life that brings joy even in times of struggle and the sure and certain hope of eternal life in a renewed and perfect world where pain and suffering, disease and death are no more.
As with the EU campaigns, of course, we need to know if we can trust Jesus’ words. And what is our proof? Three days after his death Jesus rose again, just as he promised. That was why the same disciples who’d run away when Jesus was arrested were suddenly, despite threats and persecution, telling everyone about Him and were willing to die for that truth.
There is a cost to being a Christian, and Jesus is upfront about that. But he’s also clear about the benefits. Come along, and see for yourself.