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Summary: Jesus tells us time and again that if we follow Him, we will be despised and even persecuted by the world. How many of us are willing to stick it out for Jesus even when the going gets tough?

"Count Me In!"

How many of you know the amount of our present national debt? As of last night our country was $6,103,548,889,112 in debt. Just to give you and idea of how large a sum of money that is and how fast we are sinking, this country’s deficit increases by an average of $1,111million every day! And it’s not just at the national level, we are all familiar I’m sure with our state’s present budget crisis. And on the personal level, I have these statistics for you; in 1990 Americans carried a credit card balance of an average of $3,000. Today that average has grown to $8,500. Not including house, car or other miscellaneous loans. This just goes to show us that we live in a society that likes to “buy now” and worry

about paying later......much later. We tend to be a nation that is consumed with a desire to have anything we want without seriously counting the cost. But when all of our creditors begin demanding payment, we many times find ourselves financially unprepared to pay.

You see, regardless of how trivial a gifted salesperson may make the price sound, everything comes at a cost and if we are wise, we will consider that cost before we commit ourselves to making a purchase. Never the less, the purpose of our sermon is not to look at the cost of our material possessions, no this morning, we are going to examine the cost of something far more important; discipleship.

The reason I chose this ‘unpopular’ topic is because the world, and yes even our churches, are full of people who have made decisions about following Jesus without fully realizing or counting the cost. In the same way that many of us are impulse buyers, quite a few people enter into “discipleship” on a spur of the moment decision or merely decide to become a Christian for the wrong reason. And as a result their efforts are in vain and they end up leaving the faith and sometimes even become bitter towards God. And this is nothing new, near the end of His ministry on earth, Jesus found Himself surrounded with many people who needed to re-evaluate their reason and decision to follow Him. Turn with me to our scripture for

today; Luke 14:25-27

“25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone w

does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

Notice in Vs 25 that the bible says that large crowds were traveling with Jesus--they were not just there to hear a sermon or two, they had determined to be His “disciples” maybe even become part of the ‘inner circle.’ But despite their appearances, they weren’t truly disciples, they were more like religious and philosophical “groupies.” Many of them were following Jesus just to see the miracles that He performed, many more followed Him for the selfish reason of earning an esteemed place of honor in the new kingdom they thought He was about to set up. In fact, they probably expected Jesus to try to “recruit them” with a speech like; “..if anyone will come after me he will have wealth, honor, and the best of

everything.....”

I’m sure they were shocked when Jesus assured them of quite the opposite. He knew their hearts and He knew that many of these people would prove to be a hindrance rather than a help to His ministry. So He decided to separate the disciples from the glory seekers and spectators. As we just read, Jesus didn’t paint them a rosy picture of discipleship, He simply outlined to them the basic qualifications for the job.

And believe it or not brothers and sisters, those qualifications for discipleship are still required today. Let’s take a closer look at them shall we. Again, verse 26 says; “If anyone comes to Me and does not “hate” his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-- yes, even his own life-- he cannot be my disciple.”

There are two main and all encompassing requirements and this is the first one. Please understand that Jesus here is obviously not telling us to “hate”(as we understand hate) our family or ourselves. And we know this simply because to hate anyone is to break the Royal Law that He came to fulfill. No, Jesus is using a common Oriental hyperbole meaning; “to love less than..” He is telling the crowd of potential disciples that if they love anyone or anything more than they love Him--even their own life-- then they cannot be His disciples. Note that Jesus didn’t say ‘should’ not or ‘would’ not but He said plainly that they “could not” be his disciples. From the very beginning of Christianity on, countless people who would have followed Jesus and formed a saving relationship with Him have been discouraged and even forbidden by the very ones closest to them. The love relationship we have with Christ has to be stronger and more binding than any other relationship we have or else other relationships could easily over-power it.

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