Jaelene Hinkle is a 25-year-old American professional soccer player. Some of you may have heard about her this past week. On May 30, CBN posted an interview with Jaelene on why she had declined an invitation last summer to join the US Women’s National Soccer Team. At the time she simply said that she was declining the invitation for “personal reasons.” But in the CBN interview, she revealed that she had turned down the invitation because the US National Team would be wearing rainbow jerseys to honor and support the LGBTQ community, something that she felt she could not do.
Here is how she explained it. “I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn't my job to wear this jersey. I gave myself three days to just seek and pray and determine what (God) was asking me to do in this situation … I knew in my spirit I was doing the right thing. I knew I was being obedient."
Notice she did not moan and complain about historic Christian views being marginalized in America. She did not rail against our culture. She did not claim her own “rights.” She did not file a lawsuit. She quietly sacrificed her life-long dream for the sake of Christ. She went on to say, “I am essentially giving up the one dream that little girls dream about their entire life and I am saying no to (it) … I knew in my spirit I was doing the right thing. I knew that I was being obedient. Just because you are obedient doesn’t make it easy.”
Jesus once told his disciples that if we are to follow him then we must “count the cost” (Luke 14:28). Following Jesus is costly. I think many times we have forgotten this in the American church today. We have had it relatively easy for close to 350 years. To claim to be a Christian, to join a church, to believe the Bible, was considered normal and even beneficial to getting along in our culture. Things are changing. Jaelene was simply taking a stance that the Christian church has held universally for 2,000 years. But in this last week, she has been called “homophobic” among other things and was booed every time she touched the ball during a soccer match in Oregon. She will probably never be called up to the National Team again. (It is also worth mentioning that Jaelene has lesbian teammates and a lesbian head coach. All have spoken well of her. None have accused her of being hateful or homophobic.)
Jaelene knows what it means to count the cost. She has given up her dream. She has given up being thought well of. She may lose her chosen career. She has counted the cost, and she has said “Jesus is worth it.” When we willingly suffer loss for the sake of Christ, Jesus shines forth gloriously as our greatest treasure. And he is. Where else is there forgiveness of our sin? Where else is there reconciliation with our heavenly Father? Where else is there power for love and compassion? Where else is there freedom from sin and selfishness? Where else is there life eternal and endless joy in the presence of God? All is found in Jesus Christ and him alone.
What is the cost of following Jesus? Jesus, himself tells us, “so therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). It is a radical cost for an infinite gain.
Don’t get angry or vengeful or complaining if your faith in Christ means giving up your reputation or your rights or even your dreams. No. Rejoice! For the infinite worth of Christ shines through your life to those around you.
James Calderazzo is pastor of Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church in Destin. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.