“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?...So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-33 ESV)
This is one of the most difficult teachings of Jesus. It is not hard because we don’t understand it. Rather, it is difficult because we don’t like what it means for us.
Being a disciple, a true follower of Jesus, is costly. In some cultures, your family may turn against you. Can you “hate” your own family enough to choose Jesus over them?
As I write this, Christians in Syria and Iraq are being driven from their homes and even killed. Can you “hate” your own life enough to choose Jesus over it?
Those of us who live where Christianity is a big part of the culture deal with less severe forms of persecution. Still, can we “hate” our family and our own life enough to choose Jesus over them?
Why should a believer put up with this? Because the world will not be made right until Jesus returns. And the one who saved us also gave up his life. Jesus said, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20 ESV).
Jesus did not want us to be caught unaware. In this passage, he encourages us to “count the cost.” He wants us to recognize the danger in following him.
The only way to be ready for “the cost” of discipleship is to give everything away. Not literally giving away our possessions; Jesus does not ask for that. But to “give away” in our minds and hearts. Don’t consider our things and our families and our lives important enough to grasp onto.
The world will not be made right until Jesus returns
Most of us came to Jesus because we had a need. We were lonely. We needed freedom from addiction. We recognized our sin separated us from God. And Jesus met our need. However, it comes at a price. The world hates the true works of Jesus. The world cannot do anything to Jesus so it will attack his followers.
Is what Jesus gives us worth the cost? Yes! In the middle of earthly difficulties, He walks with us. He gives us His love and His strength. When we this life is over, we will be freed from all troubles and live with him forever.
I do not know the troubles that come to you because you follow Jesus. I cannot say that my problems are better or worse. But I know the power of Jesus in my life. I trust in His words to us. So I can say confidently that following Jesus is worth the cost. I pray that you will decide that it is worth it too.
Bob Caldwell, Ph.D., is Theologian-in-Residence at Network 211.