Often, when things get tight along the path to cross-cultural work or when we are already involved, we are tempted to wonder if it is all worth it. After all, we have set our pride aside to ask others for money, left our family behind, left our culture, and are struggling to have an impact in a new one, left comforts behind in some cases: we have made sacrifices and will probably have to make more.
Maybe there are areas in your life that don’t relate to missions, but of which you can ask the same question. Relationships are difficult. Loving others requires sacrifice. Things at work are just taking more out of you than you anticipated. With your job, your family, your church, and other demands on your time, the focus on yourself has gotten lost. You’re just not sure you can keep it up.
Worth the Risk
These are dangerous places to find ourselves. The cost of obedience is indeed high; if fact, some have paid the ultimate price to obey. Deciding to follow God into cross-cultural ministry is not easy. It may be one of the most challenging things you do, but that should never mean that you consider not getting involved. From a human perspective, it isn’t worth it. There is no parade set up for you when you return home. You don’t become famous. If you make sacrifices at work or in your relationships, they will often go unnoticed. Does that mean that we should not do them? We do them because Jesus has asked us to and for the joy of a future, unseen and unprovable reward.
Jesus is the Example
What if Jesus had approached his path, wondering about the worth of what he was doing. It wasn’t that he didn’t question the plan, even asking his Father three times in Gethsemane to come up with a different method if it was possible, but he submitted to the Father’s will, endured the cross and saved us all.
Paul puts it this way in Philippians 2.
Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus: Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings. When he found himself in the form of a human, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (CEB).
The writer of Hebrews adds in chapter 12,
… fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer, and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne (CEB).
It may not be worth it, but living lives of obedience, wherever we find ourselves, is pleasing and glorifying to God, who made the ultimate sacrifice for us. In a sense, we were worth it to him. We can do no less.