“Membership has its privileges; membership has its price.”
These words from a sermon this past year accurately portray faith’s dual nature. The price of faith is the constant testing we must overcome in our daily existence. I have experienced many tests in my relatively short lifetime: unemployment, betrayal, rejection and the difficulty of forgiving those who have trespassed against me.
After my adult baptism, I had hoped the testing would abate. No such luck. In fact, the testing has increased and seems to take new forms as life progresses. Realistically, my tests (and joys) are no more or less than many in our community, whether at Ascension or next door. Yet I wonder is the price of membership too high? Can faith that is constantly bombarded by the negative variables of existence endure?
On a more positive note, the privilege of faith is echoed in Psalm 34: “The Lord is close to those whose courage is broken; he saves those whose spirit is crushed; his ears are open to my cry; the Lord delivers the lives of his servants.” It is this privilege, his saving grace, that makes me want to renew my membership through Christ. Membership provides the privilege of a constant dialogue with an entity who listens and will not let the tests of life go unrewarded. Before launching his Cultural Revolution, Mao Tse Tung stated: “After much pain, there is much pleasure.” Membership has its price, membership has its privileges.