Summary: Let’s examine Luke 14:25-33 and the cost of being a disciple.
If church size is more important than faithfulness to Jesus, then here are 5 ways to build a mega church. 1) Promise that obedience to Jesus will improve your worldly stature. 2) Promise that people will not have to carry their own cross, because Jesus did. 3) Tell them not to use their minds and count the cost of building but just step out on faith. 4) Tell them just to go to battle without thinking and rely on God for the victory. 5) Tell them they do not have to give anything up to be a disciple of Jesus, but that Jesus wants them all to have worldly wealth. These promises could build a megachurch with a large following. There is only one thing wrong. They are half-truths and lies which avoid what Jesus taught about true discipleship.
Let’s look at Jesus’ words and see how they differ vastly from the false message preached by false prophets and many televangelists.
Let’s examine Luke 14:25-33 and the cost of being a disciple.
Luke 14:25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
31 “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? 32 And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. 33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Hate? (Luke 14:25-27)
Jesus told crowds of potential disciples that they must hate, a strong word. Love for human family and self ought to be hate compared with our love for God. No earthly love can be allowed to become an idol replacing God. The invitation to discipleship is open to those willing to bear their cross, focusing on self-sacrifice, not worldly possessions.
Literally, we might think that Jesus contradicts his command to love our neighbor as ourselves, even family. By analogy he is comparing our allegiance to him with that of family and self. In context, the word “hate” expresses our moral obligation to Jesus above all others, even self. Prophetically, Jesus redirects loyalties to what is eternal over what is earthly.
Cost? (Luke 14:28-30)
Building an observation tower in a vineyard is still practiced today. City walls at the time also contained many watch towers. If someone is thinking of becoming a Christian, then counting the cost beforehand is important. What will we do if family or personal desires pressure us to be lukewarm or even quit? Will we be faithful to the end?
We are not literally building a tower. The analogy is that we are building a disciple’s life and Jesus wants us to seriously consider the cost. Morally, discipleship includes willingness to give some things up, the opposite of materialistic false gospels. Symbolically, family resources and our own strength cannot finish the job. We must rely on heaven to help us.
Strategy? (Luke 14:31-33)
When combat is man-to-man, often those willing to die are the ones who succeed and live. It is imperative that wartime leaders take lots of counsel from a wide variety of advisors. Good discipleship means surrounding ourselves with formal and informal mentors with Christian experience and wisdom. Fidelity to Christ means being always ready to place everything else behind us.
Literally, we may not be at war and are not required to become beggars. Those early disciples did literally abandon family businesses to follow him. By analogy, we are at war against evil and must be committed to Jesus above material possessions. Morally, materialism blinds us to the spiritual battle for our souls. Prophetically, the kingdom belongs to the faithful.
Are we willing to be excluded from certain social or professional circles because of our faith? Do we willingly grab hold of our cross to follow Jesus? What is the cost of ignoring the cross? Do we put family values ahead of godly values?