Summary: Trust in Jesus; how far will your trust in Jesus Christ carry you in todays society? Will you be seen as a commited to discipleship, or like Judas--an uncommitted pretender?
COUNTING THE COST
Counting the cost of discipleship. That is something that we don’t like to think about too often. But, everything comes at a cost. For an athlete, they must decide early in life just how serious he/she wants to become in their sport and train accordingly. I was watching some of the qualification rounds for the Olympic diving teams recently. Some of those people have been training for 6-10 years just to qualify to participate in the Olympic games. What dedication to sport. What a price to pay. They will train and condition themselves for years for the chance to compete. They are totally devoted to the competition. While other young people are having fun, they train, while other young people go on vacations, they train. Many of these young people today have ditched Sunday School, Youth Services and small group meetings in order to enroll in the best sports programs. All their energies are focused on being their best on the day of competition. If everything goes well, they may be able to qualify and even win a medal. Top prize for all that training–a medal. How often do we take Christianity that seriously? Why has sport become God to so many people? Are we counting the cost in our churches today with our young people?
Do we find ourselves studying to become better Christians? Do we see young people role modeling the Christian life style? We must count the cost of being a disciple for Christ. What will it cost me to become a disciple for Christ today? I remember some time ago I made the comment during a Communion Meditation that we had to ‘Trust’ in Jesus, following the service that Sunday morning a lady from the congregation came up and asked me how far my trust in Jesus was going to take me? Sometimes we need to listen to, and follow our own advice. Will the simple act of going to Church on Sunday be enough or will I be left wanting more? For many years as I was growing up, I had a foundation but had failed to continue to build upon it. Why had I failed to build? Perhaps I had failed to count the cost of being a disciple. Maybe I didn’t know it would be so hard, perhaps I had counted the cost and decided it was too great at the time. For whatever reason, we see that having a foundation is not enough. We need more. "Discipleship" can be summed up in the following way: "Discipleship is the making of decisions, changes, and being able to deny both the past and the present." We must first make the decision to follow Christ, we must make any necessary changes, then we must continue to deny ourselves of everything in our lives that is not Godly. Remember where Jesus traveled. He did not remain within the quiet and comfortable areas; but often found himself in the troubled areas facing hardships. Look at our missionaries today and the situations they find themselves in. Many of them are counting the cost daily for the work they do. Missionaries who are blocked in their cars while they are burned alive, many of them facing direct persecution simply because they are Christians.
Look at the life of Paul for a moment. On his missionary journey, both Paul and Barnabas had to flee from Iconium after they had heard of a plot to stone them in Acts 14. From there they went to Lystra and Derbe. What happens to Paul in Lystra? In Acts 14:19 we read: "Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead." What a loving bunch that was. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city and left him for dead. Of course we know that Paul did not in fact die there as a result of the stoning. He gets up along with the other disciples and returns back into the city. I’m sure he knew what would happen if someone had seen him in the city again.
As soon as we are willing to take a stand for Jesus we become his disciples. True enough, we may have to give up some of our "pleasures," we may have to leave our homes, leave our families, even our comfort zones and do things that would normally scare us silly. What do we need to consider within our lives when we think of counting the cost? Do we still need to make more changes? Let me read a short story of a man who certainly counted the cost on April 9, 1945. "The men mounted the gallows and an officer read their death sentences out loud to the,. He ordered them to take off their striped prison clothing and step up to the nooses that close tightly around their necks. One of them, 39 years old, gestured to the guard to wait. Then he knelt down under the gallows and prayed. The guards watched with a mixture of embarrassment and annoyance. But the man did not notice. "Father," he prayed, "I thank you for the cross where Jesus suffered rejection and shame for me. Now it is my turn to walk to my cross and follow Him to the end. I pray for the strength to do so. And–I pray for those around me, my family, my friends , my fellow prisoners, and even my executioners." Truly he had counted the cost and remained faithful to Jesus to the end. He knew that the cost of his discipleship was certain death by hanging, yet he was willing to follow his Lord. The man was Dietrich Bonnhoeffer who was executed in a prison camp at the end of WW II. That is a big price to pay.