Some of Jesus’ toughest teaching concerns carrying a cross. This is the cost of being His disciple. All too often, we would like to make Christianity easy. We would like to say, “I’ll be a Christian, but make it easier for me –make it easier to swallow. But the cost of discipleship is high. Jesus tells us we must give us everything or we cannot be His disciple. The interesting things about being Jesus’ disciple is that He isn’t asking us to go anywhere where He hasn’t already gone. So Jesus asks us, “Have you considered how much this is going to cost you? Have you really considered this?”
I know a lady who had virtually nothing. She is Ukrainian by birth but now she belongs to Jesus. She came to church skeptically, but eventually she gave Jesus everything. She had an apartment in Yalta that she was able to sell and she came to church one day and said, “I need to give my tithe. This money came down from heaven.” She sold her apartment for $10,000, which doesn’t look like much money by our standards, but for a typical Ukrainian family, that’s a lot of money. But she gave to God. She wasn’t really giving to the church, she wasn’t giving to make herself feel better about herself. She was giving because she felt an obligation, a commitment; she knew the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. What’s even more interesting was that she was preparing to emigrate. She could have reasoned that she could have waited until she reached her new destination and then give if she was able. No, she didn’t do that. She gave first, trusting that God would take care of the rest. She told me, “If money is all I care about, then I will never care about anything worth caring about.” She counted the cost.
I know a young man who made some bad decisions and, though he was a Christian, be began stealing hundreds of dollars by using the credit of another Christian. When the second Christian became aware of the situation (years later when contacted by a debt collection agency), he closed the accounts (that he hadn’t used for years) and paid the debt off by taking on additional odd jobs. He then went to the thief and told him, “You have stolen from me. You have sinned against God and me. But I have paid the debt. Jesus paid my debt. I have paid yours. Go and sin no more or you sin will destroy you.” The sinner is now in the ministry, changed forever because of the tough love shown by a brother in Christ. Someone counted the cost.
I also know of a minister who was deep in debt because of a series of unexpected events that left he and his family destitute. The bank was about to take everything when another minister went to the bank, took out a loan for the entire amount of the other minister’s debt and paid off all the debt. The only requirement the second minister had for the first was this, “Now go and serve faithfully, your debt has been paid.” This is the cost of being a disciple of Jesus.
I also have heard the testimony of Africans, Indians and Chinese who have testified to the fact that their loved ones were killed by aggressive people who were under the influence of Satan and hated Christians, but instead of revenge, these disciples of Jesus responded in love, saying, “You have killed the ones we love, but they are with Jesus now. We do not hate you; we love you. And if you do not change your wicked ways, you will be eternally lost. We will see our loved ones again in glory. But you will see eternal punishment unless you change your ways. Will you accept the love and grace of Jesus? We forgive you. God can forgive you. Will you let Him forgive you?” The disciples of Jesus, all around the globe, are counting the cost.
What then shall we do? We heard last week at the North American Christian Convention that the greatest enemy that we have in the West is affluence. We think that we have everything that we need… so why do we need God? We are often guilty of being like the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3). We call ourselves Christian, but have we considered the cost? Being Jesus’ disciple means we sell out for Jesus. And yet, we expect Him to show up when times get tough, but give Him fourth or fifth seat after all our other activities –we leave Him outside, standing at the door and knocking. But if we dare to call Him “Teacher” and ourselves “disciples,” then He takes first seat and everything else going on in our lives takes second seat.
Please, church, do not focus all of your attention on finances. The last church I served at didn’t even keep money in the bank. A wise old elder told me, “It won’t do any good just sitting in the bank.” If we have what we need and are content, then why do we need God? After all, the reason we exist is not to maintain property and facilities, but rather to be Jesus’ disciples. Our focus cannot be on what we don’t have, it must be on what we must do. We must walk by faith, not by sight. Jesus told us that we would do greater things than the things He has done (John 14:12). Our focus now more than ever must be on what God can do, not what we can do. If all of our focus is on what we can do on our own without God, then we have not counted the cost. Let’s take Jesus at His Word and believe that we will do great things –even greater than the things that He has done. But let’s believe. God will provide if we don’t put the cart before the horse. But before we take one more step, let’s consider the cost of being His disciples.
Love in Jesus,