Counting the Cost
‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.’ (Luke 9:23-24)
Anything worthwhile in life has a cost. Indeed, if there isn’t some cost – not necessarily financial, but perhaps in terms of commitment or time or effort – then it is probably worth very little indeed. Following Jesus, too has a cost to it – and if it doesn’t, we may question whether we have truly found ‘the real thing’.
This cost is not the cost of knowing him, however – Jesus himself paid that cost through his once-for-all sacrifice on the cross, and there is nothing we can add to that. No, this cost is the cost of following him, of learning how to live life his way. It is the cost of being a disciple. This cost involves, first and foremost, a change in established loyalties. So, for example, while we are to honour our parents, Jesus said that they can no longer take first place in our lives. And loyalty to such things as our possessions and our money would be challenged too, he said; as well as the need to make sacrifices for his sake – whether sacrifices of time, possessions, comfort, or even life itself.
This is why Jesus said that we need to sit down first and consider whether we’re ready for all this! He said we need to be like a man planning a building project, or a king going out to battle, who thinks, ‘Can I start what I have finished?’ He wasn’t looking for a blind and easy commitment that doesn’t understand what it is letting itself in for, but a thoughtful consideration of whether we are ready to follow him.
This all could sound rather heavy, couldn’t it? But there is another side to the matter! For Jesus said that, though the costs were real, the rewards were amazing! And for those who were ready to follow in this way, Jesus promised them that it would never be to their loss!
‘And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.’ (Matthew 19: 29)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont