Counting the Cost

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound….”

Those are, of course, the opening words of that beautiful and classic hymn “Amazing Grace.”

They speak of how full, and compassionate, and wonderful – not to mention, amazing – God’s grace is for all of us.

I don’t know how many times I have sung that hymn as both a believer and a pastor and I love singing it every time I do.

Still, as much as I affirm the truth of that hymn – I am also drawn, especially during the season of Lent, to remember that there is a cost to following Jesus.  It is not a “quid pro quo” type of cost, not a “I will save you if you do this or that….” I believe in grace being, well, grace-ful.  I don’t, nor could I ever, “buy” God’s gift of love.

Still, Jesus reminded his followers and he still reminds them that we must carefully count the cost that will have to be paid in following him.  Why?  Because the world will at times hate us – just as it hates him.

Those who refuse His call – and for that matter His grace – are often those who persecute his followers in various, sometimes quite terrible ways.  We who live in a relatively free country sometimes forget that.  Those who live in parts of the world where following Jesus may cost them their lives do not.

So, count the cost carefully, of being faithful to God’s call on your life.  In the short run, it may seem a high price to pay.

Then again, there is that “Amazing Grace” which, as promised, will sustain us along the way.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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