Counting the Cost
I am headed back out to the bush for a while, so I thought I would leave you guys with something that has recently been on my mind. I spent several days this past week working with a short-term team from the States. It was a real blessing, and God spoke to me about the cost that must be paid for His kingdom. We spent quite a bit of time discussing strategy, plans for the future and how we could be effective over here in Africa in reaching the lost people group that God has given us responsibility for. These guys were such an encouragement as I saw people willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work of the Kingdom. My thoughts were brought to the passage in Luke 14 where Jesus discusses true discipleship, and the cost we must pay to truly be a follower of Christ. A passage I should dwell on more often.
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 14:25-35)
Think for a minute about all of the “sales tactics” you’ve heard people use to convince someone they need to be a Christian. Did it ever include Luke 14? My guess is no. We hear people say, “It’s the easiest decision you’ll ever make.” But do we do justice to someone’s understanding of the Christian life when we say things like this? How many times have you seen people make a “decision” to become a Christian and never actually become a disciple of Christ? I know, to my discredit, I have seen it more than once. If only we would square with people about the cost we must pay to follow Christ. If only we would square with ourselves about that price, maybe then, we would change the world.
Christ did not simply ask for us to say we are Christians, or worse, just wear a t-shirt that says it so we do not have to anymore. He asked a much bigger price to be part of His Kingdom. He asked for our lives. “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple,”are Christ’s very words to us. It does not get much plainer than that. Somewhere along the way, I think to make us feel better about disobeying this passage, we have watered down the whole cross thing to bearing the burdens of the Christian life. Well, when we say something like that, all of sudden, we can make this passage about any little inconvenience that might come our way. In effect, we interpret the meaning right out of this passage. Christ is not telling us we will have little inconveniences, He is saying we must do as he did. He bore an instrument of death, walked that road to Calvary, and gave his life. To be one’s disciple is to follow in their steps, and Jesus plainly lays His steps out here.
What is more, He follows with a discussion of counting this cost. This is where I have fallen so short in recent. It is easy to give one’s life when it is convenient. When things are going in your direction and life seems to be lending itself to the adventure of sacrifice, it almost feels heroic or something. But then, the circumstances that made it an adventure quickly turn into the very obstacles you do not want to tackle, and you find that you have not adequately counted the cost of discipleship. Yet, my life is not my own, it was bought with a price. When I said I would take up my cross, I made a commitment to follow that path wherever it takes me and through whatever circumstances arise. The Kingdom truly is a pearl of great price that costs everything we have. I trust it is worth it… because I have invested.
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