The Cost of Being a Disciple
A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
“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? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
“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? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
“Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”
(Luke 14:25-35, NLT) Pasted from <http://bibleresources.bible.com/passagesearchresults.php?passage1=Luke+14&version=51>
I’ve been stressed of late. Not unhappy, per se, but wound up like an old watch. I can feel it in my muscles, the fact my eczema will not improve, and unable to sleep through the night.
What worries me? Everything! The present, the future, asking questions about what tomorrow will bring, but not waiting long enough to discover the answers. I’m content instead to stew in my worrying.
As if they matter.
Jesus said we must hate our lives and everyone in it. That’s a strong word, and one I find inappropriate in all honesty. For how can on the one hand Jesus command we must love others as ourselves, then say the opposite to others?
The key phrase “by comparison.”
He’s saying that we must love him above all things. And that love , by comparison, should be greater than any love we can bestow upon our family, ourselves, and all material goods of this earth.
That’s a tough one to swallow. But Jesus knew that too when he said we must count the cost of following him. It means that he may ask us at some point to leave our family, our job, our wealth, and we must be willing to do it without thought or hesitation.
My problem is I’ve counted the cost, and a large part of me is not willing to pay it — as much as I would like to.
There is a price to be paid for that as well. It means that God will not share his peace with me, the peace that through him, not only are all things possible, but that he is in control. He will not let me believe without doubt all will turn out in a way that’s best for me.
To love the things of this world is foolishness. I can worry that I will lose my job, my home, my friends, family and wealth, but guess what? I will lose it all eventually anyway the day I die if not before. All I have left, then, is God.
Shouldn’t that be enough? It’s not, because in truth I love my life and everything in it more than I love God.
Another obstacle is my need — desire — for control. Raised to be self-reliant, I struggle with allowing God to assume control of my life. I refrain from prayer, because the act alone shows admission of my utter and total weakness. I am not in control, and to think I am is delusion. Yet I prefer delusion.
So if I truly want to be able to sleep again, to not have to slather my body in ointments in vain attempt to stave off an autoimmune disease and be able to — finally — relax, I must give up my life and everything in it. I must hate it in comparison to my love and devotion to God.
With God’s help, maybe I can, because in the end I won’t lose one thing worth keeping.