My youngest daughter likes to tell me about how many dogs and other pets she is going to have one day – a sausage dog, a pug, a couple of Corgis (like the Queen), a grey hound and a Labrador!
“Don’t you realise how expensive that will be?” I ask her. “Buying the dogs is hugely expensive and then you have ongoing costs – vet bills, food, toys, equipment, grooming, kennelling when you go away; not to mention the time needed to care for and exercise all those dogs!”
I guess having dogs is a little like having children – if we really sat down and worked out how much they would cost us personally and financially – not to mention emotionally – then we wouldn’t have them at all!
But almost everyone who has dogs or children will tell you that the benefits vastly out way the costs; and they would definitely recommend owning pets or having kids.
In the same way, becoming a Christian can be extremely costly, to the extent that often outsiders cannot understand why anyone would want to make the commitment.
Jesus warned his disciples in Luke 14 of that cost, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? … In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
For some converts, Christianity means they have to abandon some relationships, some habits, some cherished notions. For other people it costs them even more obviously when their family rejects them, they are chased out of their home, lose their job, are thrown in prison or have to forfeit their very lives.
Yet I have only ever heard of Christians agreeing with the Apostle Paul when he says in Romans chapter 8 verse 18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Like having pets or kids, Christianity may seem to be a ridiculous investment of time, money and effort for no dollar and cents return, but those who have done it know that what they gained in joy, love, forgiveness, hope and eternal life, is immeasurably more than they have lost.