Instant gratification is the seductive message of the market. You can have what you want right now! You deserve it. Head over heels in debt? No problem. Refinance. Buy more stuff. Too much month at the end of the paycheck? No problem. Get a payday loan. Easy terms. Buy now, pay later. One of my personal favorites is “zero down, zero interest.” Zero down means instant gratification. I don’t need any money right now to buy that item I just can’t live without. In addition, zero interest is a distraction, keeping our attention away from the cost of those monthly payments in the future.
When Jesus spoke of life’s greatest adventure and its everlasting reward, He did so with full disclosure. He did not sugar-coat the demands of discipleship, instead He told His followers to count the cost. He said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26). Jesus was clear about the costs and demands of discipleship. Jesus does not recruit into His army the “summer soldier and the sunshine patriot.”
So, if we are looking for a quick-fix religion—get it now, pay for it later—we will be sadly disappointed in what Jesus has to offer. True discipleship focuses on future rewards and present responsibilities. It surprises some to learn that this provides life’s most satisfying experiences. When given opportunity to offer sacrifice without personal cost, David firmly responded, saying, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing” (II Sam. 24:24).
Bring on the cost. Bring on the sacrifice. Bring on the inconvenience. In many ways, the value of our faith is determined by what we are willing to give in exchange for it. Regardless of its appeal, you and I putting zero down most likely means we have zero interest, as far as spiritual things are concerned. So the question becomes: how much do you value your faith?