Post published by Tao Jones
I often talk about counting the cost of being a disciple and paying whatever price is needed to gain entrance into our freedom in Christ. Jesus himself also spoke of such things and stressed their importance. Because I am focused on these practical realities of discipleship, some may think I am teaching the same performance based lessons as every other religion out there. This is on my mind this week especially, as the Muslim Ramadan fasts are ending. Talk about jumping through hoops to earn God's favor! (Did you know in Islam there are "make up" prayers you have to say if you miss your assigned allotment? Wow!)
The Kingdom of Christ is not like this. Its door stands wide open to you. Christ has his hand outstretched, waiting to receive you in gladness. His heart overflows with love for you. His desire is that no one would perish outside the gates of the Kingdom, but that everyone would choose to join him inside. We cannot earn our way into the Kingdom by any means at all. The way that had been broken has been made whole. A new Way has been provided. All we must do is enter the gate and walk along the Way.
But the gate is small, and the Way itself is narrow. That huge mountain of junk you're toting around with you? It will not fit. You will have to leave that behind. And that is where counting the cost enters into things. It will cost us everything to enter. We must choose to trade in all we have for the riches of the Kingdom, because we cannot bring the currency of the world and our load of cares with us into it. We must set all of those down.
This decision is primarily about trust. Are things in the Kingdom as good as he claims? Do we trust him at his word when he says they are? Will I regret what I give up in order to enter?
I visited this same crossroads myself many times over the years. Each time, I tried to enter with some of my most cherished possessions. At first I tried to bring relationships in there with me, esp. romantic ones. I did not want to give that up! Then I tried to sneak in some drunkenness and escape. Just in case things turned out to be not-great, I wanted to make sure I had some way out. But none of that fit through the gate. Finally, I tried to bring PMO in with me. I could not imagine life without that cheap, plastic thrill. In fact, I camped at the outskirts of the Kingdom for many years, content to be God-adjacent, as long as it meant I could hang onto what was truly precious to me.
There came a day when the true cost of PMO began to become apparent to me. That true cost started to outweigh my fear of the unknown life inside the Kingdom. I saw my life slowly heading toward inevitable ruin that I was powerless to prevent. I began to grow desperate for a real way out. I knew he was trustworthy; I had been close enough to him to see the way he provided for his own. He had even been gracious to provide for me along the years despite my reluctance to follow him whole-heartedly. Life lived my way was not working out. It was time to try something else.
Turns out, his way is far better than my own. I had nothing to fear. His life is real and deep and undying, and he can be trusted completely. Onward, then, toward Christ and Christ-likeness!