Is the Christian life costly commitment or abundant joy?
It seems that Christians are constantly fluctuating between the cost of commitment and the joy that is our faith in Christ. Which is it? Joy or cost? The difficulty is always before us because Scripture gives both.
It certainly is costly discipleship. “If any of you wants to be my follower,” Jesus said, “you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24, NLT). The disciples did exactly this. They all paid the price of discipleship as they lived their lives of joy.
But it is also a life filled with joy and meaning. Paul described this enigma in his own life. Though constantly in difficulty because of his faith in Christ, he lived in the joy of Christ. He described what the Spirit of Christ produced in him: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). It is love, joy, and peace as well as so much more.
This enigma that to follow Christ is costly commitment and joyful living is at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian. When we give our lives to Him we truly do give our whole selves. At the same time, that very act of giving brings peace and joy to our lives.
The act itself makes it worthwhile. “Commitment to Christ is commitment to the pursuit of the ultimate treasure. To sell all of our miserable bits and pieces is no sacrifice at all when he himself has become the consuming passion of our lives” (John White).
William Barclay summed up the teaching of Jesus. He described the three things Jesus promised His disciples: they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and constantly in trouble.
May it be so with us as well.