Marvin Olasky: The cost of following Christ

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, March 7th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD Editor in Chief Marvin Olasky has some thoughts on the cost of following Christ.

MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: Parents are our first applauders. As children, we desperately yearn for their approval. Later, we like applause from society’s trend-setters. But faithfulness to God will sometimes bring disapproval from those we want to please.  

Pressures to flip come daily. A Christian student has to count the cost of being on the Lord’s side: I may be graded down. A scientist who criticizes Darwin has to wonder: Will I still have a job?

A Christian humanities or social sciences professor writing an article has to count the cost: If I am a fool for Christ, my colleagues will consider me just a plain fool.  

A Christian talking to non-Christian friends or parents has to count the cost: If I talk about Jesus, they’ll think I’m weird.

None of this is to say that we should obnoxiously blast away at non-believers. Christians should remember that g is for grace and h is for honesty: They are back-to-back letters.  

But when crunch time comes, as it always does, we need to ask, whose applause do I covet? If necessary, we need to shun applause from others as we pursue God’s benediction: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  

Isn’t hearing that from God much more important than being hip? Remember Garrison Keillor, who hosted Prairie Home Companion in Minneapolis. He once contrasted Minneapolis with its twin city St. Paul. Minneapolis wants to be hip, he said, but residents of St. Paul are content to be square. 

That makes me think of the original St. Paul in Acts 17. He was impressing the elite of Athens. And then he blew it—at least by worldly standards— when he talked about the resurrection of the dead. Though several Athenians did come to believe, Paul gave up his opportunity to win broad Areopagus acclaim.

Every Christian faces that same temptation: Do I become a Minneapolitan, or do I stick with St. Paul? Do I have two standard speeches, one to Christian audiences about my convictions, and one to others that could just as well come from a secularist? Do we relegate biblical ideas to the bottom of the barrel?  

One four-letter word should be in every Christian’s vocabulary: GUTS, guts. Again, the only applause we seek should be from God: Well done, good and faithful servant.  

For WORLD Radio, I’m Marvin Olasky.


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