“If anyone will be my disciple, let them deny themself, take up their cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

I think that the reason there are so many fair-weather church goers is largely because of unmet expectations. Whether the expectations are set by a pastor, friend, or their own assumptions, many people are falsely under the impression that once they “give their life to Jesus” everything gets easier. Nothing could be farther from the truth…

It is painful to follow Jesus.

I suspect this is not the word of encouragement you may have been hoping for. But the fact remains the same. While the gift of God is free, the cost of receiving it is high. In fact it’ll really only cost you one thing: everything. As a follower of Jesus, God will call you to do things that are outside your comfort zone. From trusting Him with your tithe, to sharing your faith, changing your major, breaking up with a boyfriend, inviting a total stranger to church, or relocating your family. It is painful to obey God.

But pain doesn’t have to just hurt. Pain has the ability to push us to do something different; to step out in faith and trust God as we boldly follow His leadership into the unknown and uncomfortable. When we do this we get to see not just what we are capable of, but what God is willing and longing to do through us. I don’t know anyone who God called to do ordinary, mundane things:

  • Abraham: “Leave everything familiar to you and go to a place that I will show you after you leave.”
  • Moses: “Demand my people’s freedom from the most powerful man on earth.”
  • Joshua: “Lead your army into battle against overwhelming odds.”
  • Jonah: “Go to a city you hate and preach to them.”
  • Mary: “Endure criticism and ridicule for being unwed and pregnant.”
  • Joseph: “Marry the woman who appears to have been unfaithful.”
  • Peter: “Step onto the water during a raging storm, in the dead of night, and walk to me.”

And on we could go. Obedience is painful. But the pain of obedience is far less than the pain of disobedience. God’s way is always better than my way. This is when faith gets difficult, but this is where faith counts. When we are at the brink of leaping into the uncomfortable or turning back into complacent disobedience God summons us, “jump!” Whatever we stand to lose pales in comparison of what we stand to gain when we get to see God move!

Don’t hold back! Be reckless! It might hurt. It will definitely cost you. But it’s so worth it! Endure the pain of obedience.