The article caught me off guard. The title was, “No pay, no pray…” and the little tag line was “Fare Way To Heaven.” It was about the German practice of placing a “surcharge” for being an “official” member of a religious institution, whether Catholic or Protestant. Many people are telling the government that they are no longer members in order to avoid the tax. A large percentage of members say they have not lost their “faith,” they just want to “save money” (Juergen Baetz, Denver Post, 9/29/12, 21A).
While the government gives the religious taxes straight to the churches, it still provoked this thought in me. What if the government taxed me for declaring myself a New Testament Christian? What if I had to pay for my faith? Maybe some see the giving of their means as the equivalent of that, despite clear, repeated New Testament teaching that giving is a spiritual exercise that shows faith in God’s provision, the proof of our love, and a greater trust in Him and His work than in “riches” (cf. Mt. 6:19-21; 2 Cor. 8-9; 1 Tim. 6). But, what if the government levied a surcharge for your membership in the Lord’s church? Would you remain?
This is a great reminder to me that I need to regularly “count the cost” of my faith. Am I willing to pay the price of time, effort, energy, finance, and whatever else is required for me to live for Jesus? Maybe I am avoiding the cost of commitment. If I am, I want to repent of that and be willing to serve my Savior no matter the “expense.” Paul, Peter, John, and others paid the price (2 Cor. 11:16-32; 1 Pet. 4:13; 5:9; Rev. 1:9) . The New Testament records the cost for James and Stephen. May I not get so comfortable in and with this world that I lose my sense of values!