Weekly Encouragement: Counting All Costs

“That we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
Romans 1:12

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

One day last week I chose to ride the bus to church. I’d ridden GRTC before, but never taken it to commute to and from work. My car wasn’t in the shop. I wasn’t worried that the parking garage would be full. (And for full disclosure, I have a reserved parking space.) I rode the bus because I wanted to experience riding the bus to work. I plan to do it again soon.

It took longer than if I’d driven. It cost more. The fares to and from totaled $3.00, while the IRS estimate for a 2.8 mile trip would be $1.62. Isn’t that how we make most of our decisions in our society: by counting costs in time and money? But only considering those costs distracts us from other sets of costs.

Opportunity costs are the usually unseen missed opportunities that arise from choosing one action over another. Walking to the bus stop gave me the opportunity to feel the sun and the breeze, and to notice the flower petals blown down upon the sidewalks from the trees. By not having to fret over the traffic vying for the road in front of me, I had the freedom to relax. I was able to observe my fellow travelers, watch the city scenery go by, and let my mind wander.

There are environmental costs to consider. By not firing up my engine that day, I saved the atmosphere from some added greenhouse gases. Those buses would have make their trips that day whether I rode them or not.

There are economic costs to consider. If enough people don’t use our buses, the system may get reduced, increasing the inconvenience and decreasing the economic opportunities for the people who have to rely on the bus system for their livelihood.

There are social costs to consider. By riding with other people in a public conveyance rather than riding alone in my individual vehicle I experienced more directly the life of our city―that city we are being asked to reflect upon and participate in more deeply through our Lenten Series, City of God.

And certainly, not least, there spiritual costs to consider. Every one of the factors I’ve listed above, including time and money, has a spiritual dimension to it. And those don’t only apply to riding public transport.

Every one of the choices we make daily can help, or harm, our spiritual lives. Every one of the choices we make daily can help, or harm, our relationship with our true selves, our relationships with our neighbors, our relationship with our created world, and our relationship with God.

Jesus knew about the importance of counting costs. In Luke 14:28 he says, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?”

Make a special effort during the rest of this Lenten season carefully to estimate all of the costs of all of your actions.

God’s Peace,

The Rev. Bill Queen
Interim Rector, St. Paul’s Church