Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8
In 1937 Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book called The Cost of Discipleship.
One of the more memorable lines in that book is this: "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." Indeed, those words achieve an almost prophetic poignancy when the reader realizes Bonhoeffer, who opposed the Nazi party from the start, was imprisoned in Buchenwald concentration camp and martyred on April 9, 1945.
Recently, Helen Roseveare, a lady who bears a striking resemblance to my grandmother, stood before a convention of theologians and said, "There is no cost in following Jesus."
Let me tell you about Roseveare. When I was four-years-old, she became a missionary to the Congo. She was still a missionary to the Congo when I was ordained 20 years later.
During those years there were numerous times when Roseveare was challenged for her faith; there were times when she was arrested, an occasion when she was stripped in public before a laughing crowd, another time when she was captured and held by rebels.
Having suffered all these things, Roseveare still says, "There is no cost in following Jesus." But I do this lady an injustice. Helen Roseveare truly does make this statement, but she also immediately adds "There is only privilege."
No cost, only privilege. Roseveare sounds very much like St. Paul who said, "When the Holy Spirit called me to faith, there was no cost in giving up the things I used to hold important. Those things were only rubbish and completely valueless when they were compared to Christ and His message of salvation."
St. Paul, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Helen Roseveare -- all are heroes of faith.
Quite honestly, I wonder how many others there are out there who are cut from the same cloth. Indeed, I wonder if I could make the incredible faith statements these people have made, and if I did say similar words, would I be willing to dedicate my life to showing I meant them?
Without having endured the challenges these souls have, without having experienced the hatred and animosity they have lived through, it is difficult to say.
Maybe the best I can do -- that most of us can do -- is echo the words of the father who asked Jesus to heal his son. When Jesus told the man anything was possible for those who believe, with tears the man immediately said, "Lord I believe, help my unbelief."
Yes, that's it. Our prayer ought to be, "Lord, You have given me a faith for this time and my present circumstance. Help me, so that no matter what comes my way, I may be found as one of Your confessing believers."
Having said that, we pray.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, keep me as one of Your faithful disciples. Whenever necessary shore up my weak faith so that when my time is done, my days will show it has been a privilege to serve the Savior who gave His life so I could be granted eternal life. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries