Summary: ’When the warm fuzzies end’. When we first meet Jesus we experience the warmth and unconditional Love of God.But as we grow in God we are confronted by the challenging call to discipleship. This requires laying down our selfish desires and doing Gods will
The Cost of following Jesus
Luke 14:25-35 (New International Version - UK)
Large crowds were travelling 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 heap; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
This passage deserves a second read or even a third. I lovingly refer to this passage as ‘when the warm fuzzies end’. When we become Christians, or when we claim the faith we grew up with as our own it often begins with ‘warm fuzzies’. We discover the tremendous love of God, an awareness of what Jesus did for us and a great sense of hope. Hopefully this knowledge will bring us joy throughout our whole life. However there comes a point when (as with all relationships) we realise that a relationship with God is a two way street. God gifts to us forgiveness and eternal life but a true disciple of Christ must make a response. God asks of us a willingness to change; a willingness to submit our selfish desires to something higher. Jesus modelled this to us. His response to God was obedience and sacrifice.
Thankfully our response doesn’t come with the pre-requisite Roman crucifixion but it does ask us to willingly crucify our own selfish desires. What is most precious to us? For most of us it our families, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers. It is no coincidence that Jesus uses these most precious relationships as an allegory for discipleship. We should be so devoted to God that in comparison our devotion to our families is like hatred of them. This should cause all of us the question our current devotion to God. How much of my time is devoted to pray and worship? How much of my time and money is dedicated to Gods service? How much of my talents and skills are used in Gods service?
We live in an age of consumerism; and this is painfully true amongst Christians. We judge our churches by how well they feed us, or how good the worship is, or whether I feel accepted. We pray fervently to God when we want something but spend very little time in relationship prayer. We consume God and his church like a commodity. But this is not Gods design for his people. Instead we are called to count the cost of our decision to follow Christ. Being a follower of Jesus will sometime’s cost us our precious days off, our sleep ins, our flash money, it will demand integrity in our relationships, faithfulness in marriage, forgiveness toward those who hurt us wether they are sorry or not. To be a disciple of Christ will sometimes ask you to go to uncomfortable places, do uncomfortable things, hold firm to beliefs which are in conflict with the prevailing society. Being a Christian will make you accountable for the poor, the lonely, the oppressed, the sick, and the imprisoned.
Sometimes being a Christian will not feel good nor will it be easy. Sometimes the warm fuzzies are replaced by weeping, suffering and rejection.
Are you feeling a little uncomfortable yet? You should be, I’m uncomfortable as I write this.
Well here’s the silver lining. We are not alone in this endeavour and Jesus, who calls us to this rigorous job knows we will fall short of it. So we as Christians must strive toward this goal of true discipleship because this honours God. However we must not feel condemned when we fall short of it because the grace of God is willing to forgive those who seek him. Count the cost of being a follower of Christ; if you are only in it for the warm fuzzies than it is not God you serve but yourself. Give, then give some more, change then change some more, love then love some more.