Summary: What does it take to follow Jesus? Find out in this message about the tower builder and the king.
"Consider the Cost"
Have you ever got involved in something, only to realize afterwards that it wasn¡¦t what you thought? Even though they told you what was required, for some reason it just didn¡¦t sink in¡Kand so you found yourself feeling like an unhappy camper just halfway into your endeavor. Such was the case at Bridger Wilderness Area. Though it is called a ¡§wilderness¡¨ area, and though the word ¡§hike¡¨ is used in the trail instructions and guides, here¡¦s what people wrote after their experience. That¡¦s right ¡V these are actual responses from comment cards given to the staff members:
¡§Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.¡¨
¡§Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the areas of these pests.¡¨
¡§Please pave the trails¡KChair lifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them.¡¨
¡§The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.¡¨
¡§A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call.¡¨
¡§Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.¡¨
¡§A MacDonald¡¦s would be nice at the trailhead.¡¨
¡§Too many rocks in the mountains.¡¨
Amazing eh? These comments and complaints indicate that the people who made them do not really understand what it means to stay in a "wilderness area." They were looking for something convenient and comfortable ¡V ¡§wilderness¡¨ on their terms ¡V but not truly a genuine wilderness experience. In a similar way, many people today do not understand what it means to be a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. There are multitudes that often follow Jesus or claim to be a Christian but they want to do it on their terms and not his. They do not truly comprehend the biblical definition of discipleship as laid out in Luke 14:24-35. Would you take you Bible and turn to that passage and let¡¦s look at what Jesus says it takes to really follow him¡K
Wile you¡¦re turning to that section of Scripture, I want to dispel a myth for you ¡V this is not an optional step for those who call themselves Christian. No, this is an essential step in the process for all believers! Let me explain¡K
In Matthew 28 we are called to ¡§make disciples¡¨ ¡K to develop devoted followers/learners of Jesus¡¦ lifestyle! That¡¦s one thing we are called to do! It¡¦s not a two-phased program consisting of evangelism and discipleship, as many view. No, I don¡¦t buy into that dichotomy of the Great Commission. Instead, I see our mandate as one call ¡V to make disciples. We¡¦re not called to evangelize, then disciple. No, that¡¦s a false dichotomy that leaves many believers thinking they have the option of following God after they believe in God. I couldn¡¦t disagree more! Those that believe follow. Period! And that¡¦s what we, his followers, are called to engage others in ¡V following him! You see, I believe discipleship is the one process of spiritual birth, growth and reproduction.
In fact, I believe the Bible sees the terms ¡§Christian¡¨ (used 3 times in the NT) and ¡§disciple¡¨ (used 269 times in the NT) as interchangeable. For instance, in the Book of Acts we¡¦re told that, "The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch¡¨ (Acts 11:26). Do you see that? The terms are interchangeable! So as we unpack this passage, don¡¦t make the mistake of thinking this is optional ¡V not at all! This is ¡§required reading¡¨ for all who desire to follow God as a Christian.
First, Jesus makes a statement about being a disciple. We could say it like this ¡V ¡§To follow Jesus we must be willing to say goodbye to anyone and anything.¡¨
A few explanations here will be helpful...
...The word "hate" here is not meant to be taken literally but is rather used figuratively to express a point. It is hyperbole or exaggeration, similar to what I used last week in my message about expectations. I realized I caused a little tension in many of you as you thought through the implications of ¡§no expectation¡¨ humility. But I intentionally exaggerated so that you would understand the importance Christ¡¦s teaching on humility. We even do this often in normal conversation, like when we say, "I laughed my head off!¡¨ It¡¦s using hyperbole to make a point. And the point here is this ¡V to be a disciple, no one can be more important to you than Jesus. No one ¡V not even yourself! When you compare your commitment, all other commitments seem like hate ¡V that¡¦s how much you love and are committed to Jesus!
The imagery of ¡§carrying your ¡§cross¡¨ was meant to signal a journey to goodbye! You see, the cross was a cruel form of punishment used by the Romans, and, humanly speaking, no one came back from a crucifixion. It was a no-return journey to death. Jesus uses this vivid illustration with the intent of showing us that following him requires that same kind of saying "goodbye" to our own will and desires because of our commitment to Him. We must be willing to say goodbye to whatever is more important than Christ. He re-emphasizes this point in 14:33 when he says, ¡§If you do not give up everything, you cannot be my disciple.¡¨