When most people decide to purchase something they want to know how much it will cost. If we are looking to buy a house, we realise that in addition to the advertised price there will be other costs as well: taxes, possibly property taxes, fees for filing the change of ownership, and interest on a mortgage we might have to take out. Most of us want to know the bottom line: how much will this cost in total?
If we have been a Christian for any length of time we realise that there is a ‘cost’ to following Jesus. This is not a monetary cost or any type of ‘fee’ we have to pay, but there is a cost that we have to be willing to pay to follow him. Jesus was very up front when he talked about the cost of following him.
“Then he said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it. For what does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you most certainly, there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:23-27 NET)
Yes, Jesus said, there is a cost involved if you want to follow me. First you must be willing to deny yourself. That is quite a steep cost for many people. Many, if not most, people live for themselves. They might include their family in what they live for, but the most important consideration in their life is their own self. They want those things that fulfil and satisfy ‘me’.
If we want to follow Jesus this must change. No longer is it what I want but what our new master wants: what does Jesus want of me? What does Jesus want me to do? Our focus must shift from self-satisfaction to thinking of other people. For most this does not come naturally but it is necessary if we want to become a follower of Jesus.
We must also be willing to die if that is what is required. This what “take up your cross” meant in the context of living under Roman occupied Judea in the first century. A cross was only used for one thing: execution. It wasn’t a piece of jewellery worn around your neck or an emblem to put on your wall. It was used for capital punishment. To take up your cross meant to be willing to die for Jesus.
Although most of us won’t be faced with literally giving our lives for Jesus, we do face rejection by those around us often from those we love and respect the most. We are rejected because we choose to follow Jesus. No wonder Jesus went on to talk about the necessity of not compromising on following him.
What good would it do to be accepted by those around us, those we love, yet lose our eternal life? Is having a few years of peace and acceptance worth losing eternal life with Jesus and those who follow him? The cost in this life is small in comparison with the cost of eternity.
Why would someone choose to reject Jesus to be accepted by those around them? Are we uncomfortable with what Jesus has asked of us? When we are around our friends and family, are we ashamed of what Jesus said about how we are to live our lives? Jesus said if we are ashamed of him and his words, he will be ashamed of us when he comes in his glory.
That is the bottom line – is the cost of rejecting Jesus for a moment’s acceptance worth losing him for eternity? Think about it.
Image by Markus Winkler from pixabay.com
Readings for next week: Luke 7-11