Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Savior's Sunk Cost

I just saw a Facebook photo depicting Christ wearing a crown of thorns, with the caption "Considering the cost He's already paid, He's not giving up on you now!" Ironically, what got me excited about this post wasn't the exclamation point or the encouraging message the post was trying to convey, but rather the use of a pair of different, yet identical contractions in the same sentence and the unique question this encouraging post inspires: Isn't this an example of the sunk cost fallacy?

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, the sunk cost fallacy is when a person puts more time, money, and/or effort into a failing investment specifically because he or she has already invested heavily into it. For example, if I'm writing a research paper and I do all the research, outlining, and most of the drafting, only to realize that the topic I've chosen to cover doesn't even match the prompt, I might be tempted to keep writing that paper on that topic, just because I've already done so much work on it.

Relating this to the Savior, it's not hard to tell how much work Jesus has invested into saving our souls. He has walked and taught for countless hours to give us the good news of the gospel. He has suffered revilings and resisted fierce temptation to set a good example for us. He has literally dedicated His life to giving us the chance to gain eternal life. In fact, He even gave His life for that cause. Jesus Christ suffered unimaginable pain and then allowed Himself to be tortured to death, just to give us a chance at salvation.

Jesus has paid a terribly high price to make salvation possible, and He's not going to get a refund if we don't accept His generous offer. The price has been paid. Period. So, it stands to reason that, in order to make sure His sacrifice doesn't go to waste, Christ is willing to continue to work hard to persuade us to accept the sacrifice. Of course Jesus Christ wants to save our souls; He wants to make sure that He didn't make that sacrifice in vain.

Except that I don't think He really cares about that. I think that what He really cares about is us.

Jesus Christ is a wise person. He's probably wise enough to know that sinking more time and effort into a failing endeavor is just making a bigger blunder. I don't think Jesus would fall for the sunk cost fallacy. But I do think that He would bend over backward to save us, not because He has already paid such a high price to save our souls, but because He thinks that saving our souls is worth the price. Yes, Christ has already paid a inestimably high price to save us, and most of us might think that it's worth investing just a little bit more in hopes of getting some return on our investment, but I think that the real reason Christ was willing to pay such a high price for our sakes, and to continue to make sacrifices on our behalf, is because He thinks that our salvation is worth every sacrifice He has made thus far, and more.

It's not a foolish attempt to get some value out of the price He paid; it's love, and it's a selfless willingness to pay almost any price for the welfare of our souls.

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