Summary: What does it cost to be healthy?
SERIES: HEALTHY CHURCH!
“THE AGGRAVATION FACTOR”
Some time ago, I heard an interesting adaptation of the biblical account of Adam and Eve. God was talking with Adam. He said, “You really need a helper, don’t you?” And Adam answered, “Yeah, I really do.”
So God said, “What if I make a woman? She’ll be perfect for you. She’ll be beautiful. She’ll rub your back at night, and your feet in the morning. She’ll plop grapes into your mouth. She’ll prepare all your favorite meals without fail. She’ll clean up the kitchen and take care of the kids. You’ll never have to do a thing, just sit around and be the king of your household.”
Adam said, “Boy, that sounds great, but how much is this going to cost?” God said, “Well, it’s pretty expensive. It will cost you an arm and a leg.” Adam thought for a moment and then asked, “What can I get for a rib?” And the rest is history, as they say.
Anything worthwhile has a cost attached – the more worthwhile, the more valuable, the more the cost. Jesus addressed the problem of cheap discipleship. Jesus wanted His followers to know that there was a cost to being a true follower.
Lk. 14:25-35 – “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘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. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, This fellow began to build and was not able to finish. Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Martin Luther put it this way, “A religion that does nothing, that saves nothing, that gives nothing, that costs nothing, that suffers nothing, is worth nothing.” To paraphrase Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we don't want discipleship that costs us this much. We want a “cheaper discipleship;” a discipleship that costs no more than we can comfortably afford, and that requires minimal sacrifice and involves minimal pain.
Cheap discipleship is wearing the name “Christian” but having no desire or discipline to come to know Christ by reading and study of the Bible, which is all about Jesus. It's 'church attendance' that never allows the Word of God to actually convict me of my sin and therefore never knows the power of the words of absolution that direct the complete and total forgiveness of almighty God right at me. Cheap discipleship says, “I have been baptized,” but ignores the fact that in that water, the Holy Spirit has made my body His temple. It's participation in the Lord's Supper with no real intention to amend my sinful life and no willingness to accept that the Word of God tells me that in the eating and drinking of the bread and wine, Christ is giving me His body and His blood for just that reason. It's a cheap discipleship that leaves worship on Sunday morning and re-enters daily life as though nothing just happened and nothing has changed.