The Cost of Following Jesus

“Are you willing to pay the cost?”

I roll the words over in my head.

What cost? Jesus paid the price of my sin. I am free. The price was paid.

Still I hear “Are you willing to pay the cost?”

What cost? I’ve heard the stories. I’ve prayed some prayers. I’ve gone to church. I’ve abstained from sex and drugs. I’ve tried to not curse. I’ve given my 10%. I’ve read the Bible. I’ve done these things that Christians should do.

“Are you willing to pay the cost of following me? Yes, outwardly, you have appeared eager. You’ve honored me with your lips saying you desire to follow me. But have you truly considered the cost of discipleship? What builder would start building without first counting up the costs? If he simply starts building without considering the costs, he may only lay the foundation before running out of funds.”

But still I ask, what is there left to pay? My sins were washed away.

He answers, “Yes, you sins are paid for but there is still the cost of following me. The cost is great, my child. Discipleship will cost your pride, your will, your worry, your worldly desires, and your life. And in addition to that, you will face rejection, snide remarks, sometimes loneliness, even possibly persecution. There will be trouble in this world. The road will not be easy and you will face trials. You will feel discouraged sometimes. You will have to place your trust solely in me and not in this world. You don’t have to fear because I have overcome the world but you have to trust me. I will guide you but you have to let me. You have to let me be God over your entire life; its duration and all that is in it.”

Before I even know what I am saying, my lips blurt out “But Lord, I know you are better than all things I could desire in this world. I’m never alone when I have You. Surely everything will be fine. I just want to follow You. You alone offer me eternal life.” It’s almost as if I had rehearsed this line over and over again just for this moment. I’m so quick to say it. I’ve been conditioned to say it.

He replies “You say these things with your lips. But remember you can’t fool me. I see your heart. You still cling to your reputation, your pride, and your desires. You want to fit in when I made you to stand out for me. Your knuckles are white from holding on so tightly to things that are fading away faster than you realize. You can talk, but in order to follow me, you also have to work. This is not a one time decision. It is a process that will last the rest of your life. I love you, dear one. I am with you and want you to draw nearer to me. I will not force you to though.”

A tear starts to roll down my cheek.

Am I ready to pay the cost? My lips say yes quickly. But talk is cheap. My heart however, wants to ponder the cost a while longer. And time is running out.

Giving to God

Some men come to Jesus trying to trick him into saying something they can use against him. They ask about whether or not it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus knew their intent and replied in a way that shocked them all.

““Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”” (Matthew 22: 19-21)

I want to point out one particular sentence of Jesus’ response. “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” What is God’s? All of creation is His. That includes us. We are His. Further, Genesis 1:27 reads “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” So we also bear the image of our Father in Heaven. Jesus used this moment, this discussion about ordinary worldly matters of paying taxes, to illustrate a very important point. If we are to give back to God what is God’s, then we are to live every moment for Him. Since we bear the image of God, we should give back to Him and follow His will for our lives. This means that we should live for Him at all times, not only at church or when other followers of Christ are watching. We were made in God’s image and we are not our own. We should live our lives everyday for Him, so that in everything we do, we give back to our Creator.

What does this look like? Well it will be slightly different for each of us. Whether you’re working in an office, studying in school, doing laundry at home, doing missionary work, playing music…remember that it all matters. God’s got a plan for each of us and we just have to be willing to answer the call.

 

Satan’s Lies and God’s Truth

Satan tells a lot of lies. He tells us that we are worthless and not good enough. He tells us that our mistakes define us. He tells us that no one could really love us. He tells us that we are forever filthy, forever stained by our selfishness, lust, jealousy, pride and hate. It is easy to believe Satan’s lies because they make sense to our human minds whereas God’s grace does not. We do mess up. We have all sinned. We can never attain perfection on our own no matter how hard we try. We will never be “good enough” on our own accord. We deserve hell. God’s grace however, is beyond human comprehension. To think that God would send His son to save us mere sinners. To think that Jesus would leave his place in heaven, his home, to come down to mankind knowing that he would be slandered, rejected, mocked, tortured, and killed. To think that God would want a relationship with each of us and call us His children. All of this is so beyond what we humans can comprehend. His love for us is greater than we can see or understand. His grace is not what we deserve and yet He gives it to us and calls us His own. Yes, we are all sinners. Yes, we have all fallen short. Yes, we have all been covered by our own evil deeds. Satan twists these facts however and tells us that our sins define us and that God could never accept us. Truth is, we are not defined by our mistakes and shortcomings. We are defined by what Christ did on that cross. No longer are we covered by our crimson stains. We are God’s and He is ours. We no longer live but rather Christ lives within each of us who are called His children. And someday soon, Satan’s lies will never again torment us. But for now, we must strive to listen to God’s voice and not Satan’s. We must draw closer to God and His Truth.