In the church circles I know, it seems that when we talk about “the cost of following Christ,” we mean one of two things:
A) enduring ridicule and ostracism from nonbelievers; or,
B) literal martyrdom
People seem to tend towards one extreme or another. But do we consider anything else on the spectrum between the two?
Following Christ might mean you’re late for a date because you stopped to help someone on the side of the road (and decided not to leave until it was resolved). Showing mercy might mean missing events altogether because of Kingdom business.
Following Christ might mean associating with people you’d rather not: people who make you uncomfortable, whom you’d rather not be seen with, who trigger every prejudice (disguised to you as “reason” or “wisdom”) you have. Visiting “widows and orphans in their distress” might mean embracing people who’d make your friends’ noses wrinkle.
Following Christ might mean passing up opportunities to make money because you have more important things to do. It might mean you can’t buy a home or a new car. It might mean going without new clothes, movies, eating out, smartphones, wifi, or any luxury we’ve come to consider essential to life. It might mean getting funny looks, then concern, then ire even from other Christians who think you’re too extreme: you’re giving too much of your time and money.
Following Christ might mean drawing ridicule from those in power and their clients; then, after ridicule, subversion and even open hostility, because whatever the GOP wants you to think, the powers that rule this world are not friendly to the mission of Christ.