Sticker Shock

Sticker shock is that kick in the gut moment when you realize something you want, I mean really, really want, costs more than you thought it would. We usually associate sticker shock with buying an automobile. You know how it happens.

You see the car. It’s a beautiful car. The lines are stunning and the color is mesmerizing. The sleek flow of the car’s design screams speed and power. The interior -- ah, that new car smell! -- is lush and classic. You would feel like a million bucks driving that car. You step back. You can see yourself in that car. You need this car.

And then, you look at the sticker on the window. What? That can’t be right! This car costs more than your college education. Not only can you not afford this car, you’ll never be able to afford this car. The sales associate will offer you a payment plan for 60 months...or 72 months. Well, if you can’t afford it now, you won’t be able to afford it in 72 months.

Shock is a good word. You feel like you’ve been hit by a burst of high voltage. You lose your breath, but more, you feel totally overwhelmed and defeated.

Buying cars isn’t the only time we experience sticker shock. We try out for the high school basketball team. We make the team and then, we show up for our first practice. We start running drills until we think we’re going to throw up.

Being on the basketball team is harder than we thought. Sticker shock.

We get a book deal. Someone actually wants us to write a book! So, we sit down and start to write. And we write and write and write. Writing is hard work. We miss going out with our friends. We can’t. We have a deadline.

The reason more people don’t write is writing is hard. They experience the sticker shock of what it takes to write and they walk away because they are unwilling to pay what is demanded.

We get married and it’s wonderful...for about two months. Then, the daily grind of living with someone every moment of every day begins to take its toll. Sticker shock.

We have a baby. We bring the beautiful child home and then realize what being a good parent will cost. Sleepless nights, college tuitions, and more tears than you can count -- this is the sticker shock of being a parent.

Holy week is when we experience the sticker shock of following Christ. It’s the moment we realize that following God’s love cost Jesus His life and following Christ will cost us our lives as well.

We’ve heard all of this before. We must be prepared to lay down everything for Jesus. We must follow him at all costs. For most of us, however, this is just religious rhetoric. Few of us know anyone who has died for the faith. In fact, most of us don’t know anyone who’s made a brave stand for the faith.

Then, the bill comes due. At fiirst, it’s just uncomfortable rather than painful. A friend messes up. They lose their job and their reputation, but they don’t lose your friendship. You hang in there because that’s what friends do. Then, some of your other “friends” warn you about what other people are saying because of the company you’re keeping.

Again, it’s not very painful, but it does make you think.

The next time it’s a little more pointed, a little more direct in the attack. You make a stand from the pulpit and people leave your church. Believe it or not, I preached a sermon against the lottery being legalized in Tennessee. I had people leave the church because I had brought “politics into the pulpit.” Others in my church told me I was prophetic. Really? A Baptist preacher being against gambling is prophetic? Really?

Now, take a stand of faith and you’ll be cancelled. Your books won’t be sold on Amazon. You won’t be allowed to speak on college campuses. Certain churches won’t allow you to preach in their pulpits.

And in some countries, you’ll be put in jail, even executed for following Christ. Following Jesus will cost you something.

Holy Week is when we look at the sticker and realize what it will cost us to follow. We may lose our careers. We will certainly lose friends and who knows, if the politics of our nation blow this way or that, we may lose our freedom and much more.

Yes, Holy Week reminds us of all we might lose. Look at what happened to those who were around Jesus in that week. Peter lost his life. So did Thomas, Matthew and most of the rest. They knew what it would cost and yet, they followed anyway.

Why? Because while they understood what it might cost them to follow Christ, all of them decided the one thing they couldn’t lose was Jesus. Paul said the same thing in Philippians. I’ll give up everything, he wrote, if I can only know Jesus in all of His fullness.

That’s the real shock. Looking at our lives, what gives us meaning and hope, what we can and can’t live without and discovering that the one thing we can’t lose, the one thing we can’t let the world take away from us, is Jesus.

The cost isn’t so much what we have to give up to follow, but what we have to let go of so we can hold on to Christ. If we lose our grip on him. We lose our grip on everything that matters. Holy Week is the handful of days when Jesus reminds us what really matters. Holy Week is the handful of days we remember we have to hold to Jesus as if our lives depended on it.

Because it does