That question, so antithetical to self-centered Christianity, stands at the heart of the Gospel itself. Jesus told the rich, young ruler to sell everything, if he wanted to follow Him. He once said each must “hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life,” if they wanted to be His disciples.
Jesus’ point was not to encourage poverty, patricide or divorce. Rather, He desired to force any who would follow him to count the cost before they started the journey.
When you add to that the second greatest commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves, walking with Christ gets all the harder. It makes living in community, living as the church, harder still. We must ask ourselves regularly, “what am I willing to give up for the Gospel?”
That’s a deeply personal question. Your answer carries eternal consequences. Get it right and souls are saved. Get it wrong and the church dies with you. Go ahead and ask yourself, do you truly love the church or just what the church can do for you?
So, it’s time for a little soul searching, literally and figuratively, for all who claim to be Christ followers.
Would you give up your seat for the sake of the Gospel? Visitors don’t know where to sit. Like most of us, they don’t want to sit on the front row. Thus, like most of us, they want to sit near the middle or the back of the sanctuary on the end of the row. That’s right. In your seat. Are you glad they’re there or do silently wish they’d sit somewhere else?
Would you give up your parking spot for the sake of the Gospel? Christians are creatures of habit. We sit in same seat decade after decade. We park in the same spot year after year. Are you willing to walk a little farther for those who can’t? Are you ready to park away from the building so those who need to can park next to it?
Would you give up your Sunday School class for the sake of the Gospel? Our classes are like families. However, they have a greater purpose still. They’re entry points into the church family for new folks as well. Thankfully our classes sometime become full but that means they have no room left for outsiders. Are you willing to go to a new class or start another to make room for a stranger? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone so a new person doesn’t have to?
Would you give up your favorite hymn for the sake of the Gospel? We all have favorite hymns or preferred music styles. They’re meaningful to us for reasons that are truly, deeply personal. But, we can only sing so many songs on Sunday morning. We can’t satisfy everyone’s musical tastes. Multiply your preferences by 200 or 1000 and you’ll see what we’re up against. Are you willing to set aside your preferences so we can reach someone new with the Gospel in song? Do we sing to praise Jesus or please ourselves?
Would you give up your tradition for the sake of the Gospel? Traditions grow out of meaningful experiences in our past. They define who we are and what moves us. However, they’re our history not everyone else’s history. Other people do it other ways. Plus, let’s be honest, we haven’t always done it this way either. We started doing it this way years ago for a reason. Maybe there’s a good reason to do it a different way again. Are you ready to make new memories, if it brings new people to church?
Every one of us loves his or her church for a reason. Our reasons may be very different but our passion is the same. We love our churches and what they mean in our lives. But, we must ask ourselves, do we love it enough so that others can come to love it, too? Are we willing to do whatever it takes to see the Gospel spread, to see the Kingdom grow, and to see souls saved? Are you willing to do it right now? Or, do you act like you think it can it wait until you’re dead and gone?
People are dying and going to hell every day. We have what they need: the Gospel. Will we put the Gospel needs of the lost before ourselves? Or will we put ourselves before the Gospel?
What are you willing to give up for sake of the Gospel?