BY: CHRISTOPHER KIM
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Popularized by economist Milton Friedman, the phrase asserts that even when something appears to be free, there is always a cost, hidden or distributed, to an individual and/or society as a whole. There is always a cost to something, an opportunity cost if you will, to every action: the time spent, resources allocated, and the opportunity to do something else. This means our day-to-day, action-by-action activities and habits have a certain cost associated with them, with the implication that things can be quantitatively measured and compared to each other.
Everyone has a clear sense of priorities. One weighs the significance and relative importance of each of his obligations and tasks at the specific moment wherefrom he bases the decisions that he makes. For instance, a student often chooses to play video games rather than study – implying that at the particular moment, the joy and pleasure gained from playing video games outweighed the benefits he may gain from his studies. His decision to play videogames has an opportunity cost in the form of the time he loses to study for his classes.
The greatest cost one can offer is his life. Opportunity cost incorporates all the potential gain that is lost as a consequence from a particular action. Choosing a life in non-profit organizations has the opportunity cost of being a potential multimillionaire, living a lavished and comfortable lifestyle. There is no greater opportunity cost of devoting ones entire life exclusively to one cause – by doing so one loses any opportunity to exclusively seek wealth and prosperity, personal comfort, love, academic credentials, although these things can come as a byproduct of one’s pursuit of a particular goal. To dedicate oneself to a purpose requires him to have a fervent passion and love for the objective in question; otherwise, the lack of personal “value” of the goal would eventually cause a the individual to conscientiously, or unconscientiously, chose an action that deviates from the previously mentioned goal.
Could an individual claim to wholeheartedly devote his life exclusively to the pursuit of one goal? Such task would be considered impossible, and unrealistic. An individual who claims to do such would be branded a liar and idealist. He would be shunned and mocked by society, criticized by his peers, and under constant scrutiny from those around him. People would look to find fault in his actions and purposefully try to sway him.
But what if such a person existed who devoted his life exclusively to one cause, one mission; that despite the mockery and scrutiny previously described, and despite the public’s attempts to test him and cause him to stumble, he remained focused and steadfast on his goals; that on his pursuit to his goal, he was abandoned by all his friends and family and was left branded as a criminal?
Who was this man? What was his goal? What was so important that it was worth sacrificing everything and forgoing a potential life of comfort and prosperity?
This man was a king, but he lived humbly. He was dedicated to the outcasts of society, tending to the sick, and feeding the hungry. He was a shepherd protecting the people from tyranny, shielding them from their enemies. But his mission was so much greater than meeting temporal and physical needs. He saw the brokenness, he felt the pain. He knew the hopelessness that pervaded his people’s days. So he cast down all of his kingly splendor and glory to fix the wrongs that pervaded society, sacrificing all the comforts, recognition, accolades, and riches in his kingdom. There had to be an exchange – the king had to give up his life, so that his people would live as he did. But the people failed to recognize their beloved king. They failed see his love, dedication, and mission to bring them joy and peace. The same people who had once hailed their king in reverence and glory did not recognize his voice or his pleas. They continued in their debauchery and mutiny.
The king saw his people condemned to death and his heart was filled with compassion. So he did the only thing he could and took their death sentence upon himself so that they would live. And in his willing exchange, the people were justified. The lost and forgotten, the outcasts, and the poor were given hope, security, and assurance. All that was required was for the people to go before the judge who held the record of their trespasses and to show that the sentence and fine had been covered in full by the death of their king.
This king’s name was Jesus Christ, and he cast off all his heavenly splendor and glory to live a life of persecution and ridicule so that man would have a restored relationship with the God he betrayed. He suffered, was cast aside, and was crucified. And in his death he accomplished his goal – he freed man from the vices of sin and death and reconciled man’s broken relationship with God.
Jesus accomplished the impossible and so that man would gain the unobtainable; that in Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice, his opportunity cost would be man’s reward. Man, through Christ, is showered with his perfect satisfaction, peace, joy, kindness, gentleness, humility, and patience. And in gaining these heavenly riches, earthly concerns and worries are dwarfed, status and recognition from others are unnecessary, and monetary wealth and prosperity become worthless. All man has to do is acknowledge and accept the sacrifice of their Savior.
The beauty is that death did not stop Jesus; it could not hold him down. That in spite of Jesus’ substitution for man’s just punishment, he conquered the grave so he would be with the people that he loves. And those who believe in the resurrected and living king will live for eternity.