I have told people that I like to shop. And that is true. It doesn’t matter the type of store—it can range from Walmart to the Outlet Mall, from a furniture to an electronic store—I like going with the potential of buying. Now my buying pattern has been consistent for as long as I can remember. I don’t go to buy at any price; I go in search of a great deal—a deal that cannot be refused. In fact, many times when I go to a restaurant I find my eyes gazing at the right side of the menu (where the prices are) in search of the best deal—where I can get the maximum amount of food at a decent price. I would say that the majority of Americans, whether they like to shop or not, are (for the most part) cost-conscious when it comes to spending money. They are looking for the best deal.
While I am all for finding the best deal and stretching money to go further, this practice is not a good one in relation to a life lived for Christ. Christians (Christ-followers) must guard against the tendency of enjoying the freedom, the forgiveness, the life they have at Christ, and living a life on mission at the least amount of cost for them. In other words, when it comes to following Christ we should not be in search of the best deal for the least amount of cost. Our mentality should not be one of constriction, but one of liberal generosity. We should be willing to give our all, to pour our heart, mind, and soul out for the glory of Christ. As Jesus put it, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). So, there should be no such thing as a cost-conscious Christian. Yet, I feel that we all, at some level, struggle with this idea of desiring the abundant life at the least amount of cost. Let me give two ways it is easy to be a cost-conscious Christian:
1) It is easy to be a cost-conscious Christian when we see ourselves as the consumer rather than the consumed. In our culture we are all consumers. Our role as a buyer of goods is what is called a consumer. As consumers we are always in search of the best deal. That is why loyalty today is at an all time low. If Target has the same product at a cheaper cost, many will jump ship and run over to Target to save a buck. When it comes to our perception of following Jesus, we are not the consumer, but the consumed. We are not shopping around for the best deal Christ can offer me for the least amount of energy. The place where this mentality is lived out the most is in our churches. We treat local brides the way we treat local grocery or department stores. If the church is not meeting our needs and giving us what we want and how we want it, we jump ship and start attending another church. The reality is the way we treat local churches is indicative of how we treat Jesus. We must be ever cognizant that Jesus died to take our place, to pay our debt, and to reconcile us to the Father in order that we may be found in him and have an intimate and vibrant relationship in which we reflect his glory through the obedience of our lives. We must become the consumed rather than the consumer.
2) It is easy to be a cost-conscious Christian when we are asking how much does this cost. This continues the mentality of seeing ourselves as the consumer rather than the consumed. Yet to shake this cost-consciousness we have to be willing to dump the price-tag mentality. There is not a price-tag on Christ’s glory and his mission in the world. As Christ-followers we must be willing to live life fully abandoned! We must be willing to give anything, go anywhere, do anything for the glory of Christ and the advancement of his gospel. This is rubber meeting the road type of discipleship. This is hard-core (is some sense) normal Christianity. Following Christ may require an extra 30min/1hr a day to spend time with him through bible and devotional reading as well as prayer. It may require extra time being part of a bible study with other believers that we may grow in our relationship with Christ and with others. It may require giving up “want” spending in order to start giving financially towards the mission of God through the local church. It may require churches seriously looking into their ministries, programs, and structures and asking what do we need to give up in order to be more effective at the overall mission of God. And when something may need to change or be given up in order to be more effective in advancing the mission of God, then what may be required is one’s support rather than disgruntlement.
So when it comes to our lives as consumers participating in this world’s economy, let us continue to be cost-conscious. However, when it comes to being Christ-followers on mission in this world, for the glory of Christ and the good of the world, let us never be cost-conscious. In fact, let us be all consumed with the glory of King Jesus, obeying him in ever sphere of life, and all consumed with the mission by which we are a part of—blessing and making disciples of all nations.