Will I pay the price?
Economics was not my favourite subject at high school. One of my teacher's favourite expressions was bellowed out in a regular refrain. "Make sure you understand Opportunity Costs!" For those who are not familiar with the term, "Opportunity Costs' refer to what one forgoes in order to get something else. Technically speaking they identify the value of the next best alternative, which is foregone, as the result of making a decision.
Christians talk about "Counting the Cost' but it can be oversimplified and reduced to that of handling personal jibes at work or giving up immoral relationships and practices. I think it is more subtle.
There are real opportunity costs involved in being truly Christian. Consider how some of our precious prejudices are revealed when connecting with unbelievers. Many issues can bite deep into our lives. The question is will I pay the price? For example;
1. What are your feelings about Vegetarian food or alcoholic drinks? Are you for or against? Are you a practitioner or an abstainer? We may develop new relationships with a person at the office, or in our street, only to discover that they are not like you, a vegetarian. For the sake of the Gospel would you go to Maccas with them? Conversely, would I give up my medium rare steak and take them to a vegetarian restaurant?
2. Sweaty locker rooms and Dencorub may not be your scene, but the new neighbour lives and breathes sport. Could you replace your nights at the opera for Friday night football for the sake of the Gospel?
3. You think the only time to go to church is at night, after dark. You discover your uncle/aunty wants to go at 8:00am! Are people actually alive at that time of day?
4. Would you get a tattoo for Jesus? Would you mind if someone else did?
5. The surf at city beaches is hopeless " in your opinion, then you discover someone else in your sporting club or gym wouldn't go anywhere else. Will you forgo your personal preferences for the possibility of making a connection for Jesus?
6. And then there is music! Don't even mention favourite bands or venues. You'd rather have root canal therapy than go to the Tamworth Country Music Festival. Now if only Redfern had a hip-hop concert. Is there an opportunity cost here that you would pay for Jesus?
The examples are endless: giving up our favourite seat at church, missing TV shows, not being able to spend all leisure time with friends "
There can be uneasiness when I move out of my comfort zone " life is like that. Parents are always surrendering good personal preferences for better ones. Dieters who are watching their weight know about an opportunity cost (it's called chocolate!).
What are the personal opportunity costs when we undertake any form of evangelism? What is the price on what I "forgo' when I befriend someone or make a stand for Jesus?
The question I must answer in this year of special connecting is "Will I pay the price?"
Jim Ramsay is the CEO of Evangelism Ministries, the outreach arm of the Sydney Diocese. Click here to visit the Evangelism Ministries web site.