This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt. The prompt today is “cost.”
There’s a youth worship event that takes place in my city, and it’s fantastic. Hundreds of teenagers gather together to worship and hear from the Bible, there’s lively music, and lots of fun, and a sense of community that reminds them they’re not alone as Christians.
However there’s one song that is frequently sung at these events that just makes me roll my eyes. I have a friend who feels the same and as soon as the music starts we turn to one another in despair.
We like to refer to it as “the unicorns and rainbows song” because the picture it presents of the Christian life sounds like something out of a fairy tale: follow Jesus, and your life will be completely amazing, you’ll be perfectly happy, and all your problems will disappear!
But we all know that’s not the reality, and it’s not what Jesus promised.
While I think a much more true and balanced perspective is presented by the youth event as a whole, I do get frustrated by that song, and it challenges me to think about the way we present the Gospel, especially to young people.
We certainly need to tell them about all that we gain from knowing Jesus: forgiveness, peace with God, hope, security, joy in him… I could go on and on.
But we also need to be honest that it doesn’t always mean we will feel happy, and we need to be real about the fact that there is a cost: that it will mean making tough choices at times, it will mean standing out and being different, it will mean giving up things that we want to do.
I think sometimes we can be scared we will put people off, but we have to be honest. Jesus was clear that those who wanted to follow him should first count the cost (Luke 14:28) and he didn’t shy away from spelling out what that cost would be.
“Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35 NLT)
It may not be all unicorns and rainbows, but, really, it’s something much, much better. It’s a call to salvation and to adventure.
Not a fairy tale, but life in all its fullness.
Maybe this is a song we should introduce instead…