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"Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn't first sit down and figure the cost so you'll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you're going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: 'He started something he couldn't finish.'" Luke 14:28-30 (The Message).
Jesus says a lot and reveals a lot about Himself and being His disciple in this statement. Unlike His arch enemy, there's no fine print in His invitation to follow Him. Satan carefully conceals the cost of believing his lies in a sugar-coated pill that kills as surely as swallowing a cyanide capsule. Not so Jesus! He leaves no-one with illusions about the cost of following Him.
'Before you make any commitment to me,' He says,' be sure you understand what is involved and what it will cost you. Don't wait to find out when you have already been joined to me because the separation is painful and permanent if you decide to pull out.' Isn't that just like Jesus? He doesn't lure us into commitment to Him under false pretenses and then reveal the conditions after we have believed Him and been born into His kingdom.
Being a disciple isn't a bed of roses. There is a cost involved, not money or good works but nothing less than dying. It's not the dying so much that is the problem but what has to die - our right to the ownership of our own lives inherited from our forefather, Adam. He rejected God's right to make the rules and chose to make his own and, in that choice, he wrote his own obituary. He died to God, to eternal life and to all the wonder of a life lived in union with and directed by a loving heavenly Father. Satan neglected to tell him what rebellion would cost!
Jesus urges, 'Before you blindly plunge into a commitment to discipleship, be sure you understand what it involves. Then, when tough times come and the requirement to submit and obey your Rabbi eats into your will, your sense of 'fairness', your idea of God's love, what you think is best for you, how you treat other people, how you wear Jesus' yoke, how you handle the stewardship of your money and possessions and all the myriad ways you consciously or unconsciously reveal who you really are, you won't chicken out because you didn't know what to expect.'
Being a disciple of Jesus requires a daily dying to yourself. Jesus called it 'shouldering your cross.' Your cross is not some difficult or painful circumstance you have to bear over which you have no control, like an impossible spouse, a wayward child or a physical infirmity. Shouldering your cross is purely voluntary. Jesus did not have to go to the cross but He chose to. He had every opportunity to evade His persecutors and escape their murderous intentions. Right up to the moment He drew His last breath He could have saved Himself but He didn't.
Not only that but He absorbed in Himself all the injustice, venom and cruelty that human beings could dump on Him without revenge or retaliation. That is the majesty of Jesus' sacrifice. He could have died cursing and swearing just like the criminals who dies beside Him, but He did not. "He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth." Isaiah 53:7b (NIV).
But...what we pay for we receive. The price we pay, dying to ourselves, will receive something far greater in return. That's how it is with God. What we pay in surrender we receive in the fullness of God's life and all the blessings that go with it, freedom from guilt and fear, His love His joy and His peace. These are priceless compared with the willingness to allow Him to steer us through the allurements or sin which conceal the terrible price of death.
The choice is yours....
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