Suppose you dream from an early age that you want to become a fashion designer. You do the research, and pretty quickly realize that in order to be successful you’re going to need to move to Italy, the fashion capital of the world.
So during school, you work harder than everyone else. You make sure your grades are high. You get part-time work on the weekends. You save as much money as you possibly can. While everyone else is out partying, you’re working. Then you finally get to university. Again, you study harder than everyone else. You take part-time jobs and save your money.
By the time university is finished, you’ve got enough money to get to Italy and set yourself up for the first 12 months. You’re well on your way to becoming a world-class fashion designer.
Then the unthinkable happens. There’s a financial crises and you lose everything. All your savings are gone. Your hopes have been shattered. There is no possible way you can get to Italy.
About six months later, you are surfing the internet and you come across a site run by a wealthy business woman from Italy. She describes how much she loves Italy and how she would do anything to help others experience life in her country. So she puts out an offer: If anyone wants to come to Italy, she will pay for their flights, put them up in an apartment, and find them a job. It seems ridiculous. Too good to be true. This is obviously some kind of scam. But you’re desperate, so you take a risk. You send off your details and to your surprise she contacts you the next day with the flight details.
You’re still not sure if this is legit or not. You’re half expecting something to go wrong. But you decided to step out in faith and rock up to the airport. Despite what you were expecting, it turns out that the ticket is valid. You jump on the plane, arrive in Italy, and meet this incredibly generous business woman. She welcomes you to Italy, gives you keys to an apartment, and introduces you to a guy who is happy to give you a job in the fashion industry.
Now what did it cost you to go to Italy?
It cost you nothing. You did nothing whatsoever to deserve it. It was absolutely a free, unconditional gift.
But it cost you everything. Your old life in your home country had to die. You had to give up your native language. You had to give up your customs. You had to give up living with your friends and family.
Going to Italy cost you nothing, except your old life.
The same is true for us when we become a Christian. It costs us nothing. Jesus has paid for our ‘ticket’ in full. He has promised to take care of us. He gives us a purpose in life. It is absolutely a free gift. We do nothing to deserve it. But at the same time, it costs us our old life. The moment we become a Christian, we receive the Holy Spirit who wages war against our sinful nature. Our life is no longer our own, we now belong to God.
Becoming a Christian cost us nothing, except our old life without the Holy Spirit.