By Jessica Brodie
Between Annual Conference’s sermon theme for ordination—“Costly”—and the memorial service’s similar sermon topic, “I’ll Be Late for Dinner,” a pervading sense of the sacrifice involved in ministry is weighing on my heart as I write this editorial.
And yet no one who loves Christ should really be surprised by these words. Sacrifice is the proverbial name of the game with Christianity. Still, it sometimes feels we’re repeatedly surprised at how hard it is to follow Christ today.
I’m active on Twitter, and there are times I share things that make me the butt of someone’s anti-Christian joke. In the past, there were times my Christian lifestyle got me pegged a “goody two-shoes” and excluded from parties and gatherings.
But that’s the easy stuff, really. At first it stings, especially when you’re young, but there’s a sense of duty and honor that swells inside your heart when you feel attacked or maligned for your faith.
It’s the other stuff, the truly hard stuff—the stuff that draws criticism from your own brothers and sisters in the faith—that can be especially hard. It’s the times you have to pick God over your own family and you feel like a bad mom or wife or daughter. Yet you know you need to do it anyway.
This doesn’t even include what some of my brothers and sisters go through across the globe: arrested, tortured, imprisoned and killed for following Jesus and sharing the Gospel. I wonder how I’d measure up if I were in their place. Would I crumble under questioning, say what authorities wanted me to say just to avoid the pain of death or abuse? I hope to God I would not.
Compared to what the first Christians experienced, the sacrifices we pay today are pale, but they are sacrifices nonetheless. They hurt, and they even hurt others. They require choices. Tough decisions.
But that is what we are called to do, whether we are pastors or however else we fulfill God’s call on our lives: Pay the price. Suffer in the name of Jesus. Heed God’s will and way no matter what.
If you are struggling with a choice today, remember: In the eyes of the world, there might be praise or scorn, accolades or stones. But the eyes of the world don’t matter.
It’s God’s eyes that matter. It’s pleasing God that matters.
Let the whispers and lies and cries of the world fade into the background. Instead, train your heart, mind and soul on God, and let God’s will guide you, now and always.