Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Cost of Following

“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33 NIV

Everything? You can’t be serious, God. Surely you don’t mean every single thing. How can I do that?

“In the same way.” In the same way as what? I checked out the passage that leads up to this verse. Back in verse 27, Jesus says, “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” That sounds very much like the verse above but sandwiched in between are two examples that at first seem to have no relevance. One is about constructing a tower and the other about a king going to war. What’s the connection?

If you want to build a tower, first you will estimate what is needed and then see if you can afford to do it. If a king sees an army marching towards his city, he will evaluate to see if he has the man and machine power to rout the enemy or not. Both are evaluating the cost of doing what needs to be done. If they can afford it, they will go ahead but if they can’t, they’ll find a way out.

In the same way we need to look at how much it will cost to follow Jesus. Are we willing to pay? I suggest that most are not. We don’t spend much time telling prospective Christians the cost of choosing Christ. We don’t even talk about this much among ourselves.

What has choosing Jesus cost you? Twenty-eight years ago it meant for me to give up my freedom and return to a marriage that was intensely painful. More recently it meant giving up the woman I loved, she who was my life and my heartbeat. In the past couple weeks it’s meant giving up staying in bed for as long as I can in the mornings to come down to my prayer room early and spend time with God.

I asked God this morning what else might he want me to give up. The answer was “safety.” I knew exactly what he meant because for decades I have built up walls of protection around myself. Now I have to find a way to dismantle them—or let God do it—and make choices that terrify me. Can I do it? I don’t know. I don’t even know what life would look like if the walls came down.

God, I’m scared to make myself vulnerable and to put myself in the position of trusting when, in the past, that trust served only to bring me pain. Instead of trusting you to protect me, I have put my trust in my own self-protective devices. Enable me to give up these walls. Enable me to risk my safety and to relinquish it to be more completely a follower of you. Thank you, God.

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