How much does it cost to be a Christian? We are told that something will cost us only pennies a day, so it won't seem that we are spending much money. We would all like the most profit from the least effort. But it won't work that way for the Christian.
Are we members of the burial society of this congregation? Or are we members of the Body of Christ gathered into a congregation named in honor of one or more of God's friends? All we need for membership in a burial society is an apparently voluntary payment of token dues, and possible appearances at meetings on Christmas and Easter. Membership seems to begin at Baptism or Confirmation, and the goal seems to be to assure burial by the Church.
But the business of the Church is not decent burial, not even decent living, but the fullness of life which gives life. The fullness of life is found in union with Jesus the Son of God, whom we know in prayer, the Breaking of the Bread, and in the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit. This union with Jesus is a gift. What is the price of that gift? Nothing. What is the cost of that gift? To Jesus, his life. To us, our lives. The cost is our time, our trouble, our talents, and our treasure (which is more than money: it is those things which to us are valuable). The cost is to give enough of our time, trouble, talents, and treasure to be conscious of it.
We have all heard and used the excuse, I haven't got time. There is no polite comment about that. What we mean is, I don't want to take the trouble, or, It is too hard. But the astounding facts are that in our work and our play we are willing and able to go to any length, at any distance to do what we want to do. No one of us says, very often at least, "I've got a hard job, I'm not going to work today," or, "I'm tired, so I'll stay home."
We expect, don't we, that our way as Christians should be easy? Yes, we do. Item: "I am just so tired I can't get to church. I am just so tired I can't pray." Yet we work, tired or not. "It's too hard for me to find time for church (meaning anything to do with the Christian experience). What is to be done? Why should fatigue and business be a deterrent to worship? They should not be; they should be an opportunity for worship. It can be done because it has been done.
So, we come to God, individually or corporately, saying, "Lord, I have brought you my tiredness because that is what I am right now. That is what you gave me, your time and your tiredness on the road to Calvary." This is what it costs to be with Jesus.
We expect, don't we, that our way as Christians should be easy? Yes, we do. Item: "I can't afford it. It's hard for me to meet all my expenses and still give anything to God in his Church. Yet we keep on incurring debts, keep on meeting expenses, even by borrowing more debts to meet the first ones. It is too hard for me to give. What is to be done? Why should giving until we are conscious of it be avoided? It should not be. It should be welcomed. It can be done because it has been done.
So, we come, saying, "Lord, I have brought you this gift of my treasure because this is what I do with my life. This is what I must do now to make me know it is a gift. This is what you did for me, giving me every agony-full second of your life splashing down from the Cross." This is what it costs to be with Jesus.
We expect, don't we, that our way as Christians should be easy? Yes, we do. Item: "Nobody appreciates me, especially a certain person at work, or in this congregation. A certain person has hurt me. I just won't be a part of it anymore. They can get along without me." Yet we maintain our business relationships, our golf, bowling, bridge, masonic, political, club relationships. "It's too hard for me to forgive." The absence of forgiveness is damnation: it is hell, here or hereafter. What is to be done? Why should being hurt make me withdraw from the fellowship of the Church? It should not. It should make me ask forgiveness, and grant it if need be.
So, we come saying, “Lord, I bring you my hurt, I bring you my shell of resentment which encases my love, because this is the way I am now. It is preventing me from know you in my brother. Because this is what you gave me as your hands were nailed to the Cross, and because this is what you gave him when he asked from the other cross.” This is what is costs to be with Jesus.