Monday, January 14, 2013
It will cost you something.
Luke 14:25 ¶ Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them,
Luke 14:26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:28 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?
Luke 14:29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him,
Luke 14:30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
Luke 14:31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand?
Luke 14:32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace.
Luke 14:33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
As Jesus continues his teaching he begins to touch upon the subject of discipleship. What does it cost to become a disciple of Jesus Christ? We know that there were crowds of people following him around the country but that by the end of passion week there were very few loyal disciples left. Jesus knew that discipleship was not an easy thing. He personally knew that staying true to God was not an easy thing and that it would call him into difficult days.
Therefore Jesus wanted his followers to take time and calculate the cost of becoming a disciple. It wasn't about a singular decision made on one day, but instead it was about an entire life of faithfulness to Christ. He said to stop and think about building a tower. In those days people would build towers, adding them to their home. These towers might have been used for prayer, meditation, but also for protection. This was a serious project to undertake and if you were going to build a tower you had to consider all the implications. What materials would you need? What types of workers might you need to hire? Do you have enough money to complete the project? The reality was that if you started and tower and didn't finish it -- it looked rather ridiculous. Can you imagine a half-built tower sticking out from the top of your house? All the world can see that you started to build it but that you didn't calculate all that was involved. Now, instead of just being the way that you were before, or having a beautifully completed and useful tower on your home, you have the shell of a half-finished project. It is neither useful nor attractive but serves as a constant reminder to the foolishness of the builder.
It takes giving up everything to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Not doing so will result in embarrassment and frustration.
Sometimes it seems as if people are out selling a cheap gospel. Yes, there is simplicity in coming before Jesus and asking for forgiveness of sins, but there is also more involved. Unfortunately it seems as if we are trying to sell an easy gospel, one that really does not require too much from the disciple. Come to church on Sundays (when you can), read a five minute devotional (when you can), try to be a faithful steward (only when you have the funds available), and tell others about Jesus (only when they ask you), and continue in the lifestyle which you have chosen for yourself. Nothing changes.
This is not the kind of discipleship to which Jesus is calling his children. He realizes that it is not easy but is a call to radical obedience which may require a complete turnaround in lifestyle. What happens to our possessions? They belong to him and are to be used for his kingdom purposes. What happens to our time? It belongs to him and is to be offered to him as a sacrifice. What happens to our relationships? They are poured out at his feet and submitted to him. What happens to our passions? They become his passions and we reach out and touch our world for him. Our lives become consumed with being followers of Jesus Christ.
As we continue to watch the decline of Christianity in the West, maybe we ought to ask ourselves whether we have been creating the kind of disciples that Jesus was talking about. Or is it possible that we have helped to half-build a bunch of towers and now the world looks at us and the half-finished landscape of Christianity and they ridicule us for they realize that we do not represent the Jesus of the Bible? The message Jesus gave us so long ago is true today -- we are to be his disciples -- radical disciples who will sit down and count the cost and then be willing to move forward in obedience to him. We are to build our towers to completion so that the world will see what it means to be sold out to Jesus Christ. Then, and only then, will the testimony of Jesus' followers be seen as true and reliable and only then will we be able to call those who don't know him into a life of discipleship as well. Yes, it will cost you something, but if you are "all in" it will be worth the cost.
Lord, thank you for all that you have done for us. Please, help me to follow you daily in radical obedience to your calling of discipleship. Amen.