Is It Worth It?
March 13, 2022
I’m not really a huge fan of puzzles. But sometimes I feel like life it’s-self is like trying to put together a puzzle without the box top picture.
It’s very hard for me to simply let go of what I falsely think is control.
The ironic thing about that kind of surrender is that it’s much less anxiety-filled.
When I think I have any kind of control over my life – I’m mistaken and the striving really gets me nowhere.
When I trust the Lord to guide my steps and my decisions, I experience confidence and peace because He really is in charge.
We seem so overstimulated, and so overwhelmed with fast-paced, energized entertainment that we have developed a real idealized sense of life with a real low pain tolerance.
The Church herself no longer is about discipleship,
no longer is about being shaped,
no longer is it about being formed.
It’s about being entertained in the gathering.”
Jesus is not a salesman trying to getting you to buy into something. He wants us to know up front what it costs.
I think many of us have forgotten that there is a cost of following Jesus.
Instead of living to please God, they are starting to live and please the flesh and other people.
Our jobs as preachers and teachers aren’t to please you, or to make you feel good.
Our job is to share the Word of God, help you learn, so that you can go out into the world and make more disciples and bring God glory.
Profession is easy. Life Long Practice is the test.
You can attend an evangelistic meeting where the music is captivating.
There is a wonderful spirit in the air.
The preacher tells a moving story and gives an invitation.
You feel good about what he has said.
Convicted even that you need a savior.
After all you have some needs in your life that Jesus could meet.
So you go forward and meet with the minister.
Profession is easy. Life Long Practice is the test.
It’s no doubt with this in mind that Jesus Decides to tell todays Parable.
Setup for the Parable is the Parable of the great Banquet
He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
Luke 14:15-24, Jesus tells a parable about a man who invites guests to a banquet.
The A-list guests bow out, citing excuses like
“I have to check my field”
I got a new tractor (oxen) I need to try them out.
and “I got married.”
In short they don’t want to put their priorities off to attend.
Preoccupied people turn down an opportunity of a lifetime for something they can do any day.
The host decides to replace these unwilling guests with B-list guests
Even with these second-tier guests, there is room for more people in the banquet hall.
The anxious host tells his servants to go to the “the highways and byways”
Up roads and country lanes” in the NIV version.
Invite strangers to his banquet.
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “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.
Now, this word “hate” confuses and stumbles many people. Did Jesus really mean that we had to hate our family and ourselves?
Not if you understand “hate” to mean show contempt or malice toward them.
The Bible says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church.
The Bible says that we are to honor our father and mother.
In Titus 2:4, Paul says that the young women are to love their husbands and to love their children.
So, if Scripture commands us to love our families, what does Jesus mean when He says we must hate them?
No person, and no person’s personal priorities, are to be placed above the priority of the Person of Christ and His priorities.
It is used in a relative sense in this context.
Bible, the word “hate” carries the meaning of preferring someone or something over another.
In the parallel passage:
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”
When Jesus says we must hate our family, He means that He must have our supreme loyalty, allegiance, and devotion.
If push comes to shove, and our family members want us to do one thing, and Jesus wants us to do another, we must obey Jesus.
If parents want their son or daughter to remain at home where it is safe and comfortable, but Jesus is calling them to the mission field where there will be danger and sacrifice and suffering, that young person must obey Jesus.
If a family member tells another they are stupid and foolish to give so much of their time and money to serving the Lord, they must not heed their ridicule.
If a spouse tells you that you should stop going to church, praying, or reading your Bible, you must obey God rather than man.
There can be no contest, no tug of war, as to who will command our loyalty and allegiance.
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
I think one of my favorite definitions of surrender is “to abandon rights to something.”
When I was younger I thought I had a right to choose what to do with my life!
Surrender is a common theme in the life of a disciple of Jesus.
Laying down my rights on a daily basis is not always easy and I fail often.
One of the most important ingredients of following Jesus is this concept of surrendering our lives by laying down our rights – DAILY.
Along with surrender comes cost.
A disciple of Christ always has to LEAVE something:
We say “goodbye” to the things we formerly put our hope and security in…
We turn away from whatever we found our identity in before.
There is a leaving behind of something.
Leaving carries with it loss and surrender. There’s always a cost when you leave anyone or anything.
So it is with discipleship. There is a cost to discipleship.
“Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?”
A disciple simply means a follower – someone who follows Jesus Christ.
To follow Jesus, we basically leave our old way of life as we surrender to God’s way.
To be disciples of Jesus, we turn away from following the world and it’s ways and turn to following Jesus and his ways.
We get to see what this looks like from the Luke passage.
I love that Jesus was a straight shooter – he never watered down what it meant to follow him.
He made it clear that there is a cost to being his disciple.
Luke 9:24 paints surrender well by telling us that if we try to hang on to our life, we will lose it.
There’s no hanging on to my life and my desires as a disciple of Christ!
What is the cost of discipleship?
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? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
Honestly this is a two way street, we might as this of God but he could also as this of us!!
What Jesus offers us might be thought of as Costly Grace. Today what many offer is Cheap Grace.
Grace is costly because it calls us to follow, but Graciously calls us to follow Jesus Christ.
It is costly because it costs a person their life, and Graciously gives it back again more alive than ever before.
It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.
Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
What has cost God so much must not be cheap for us.
Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Discipleship is costly because it costs a man his life. And now it requires you and me to lose ours in order to follow him.
Following Christ means I surrender to his desires for my life on a daily basis and that my life is fulfilling and filled with joy as a result of obedience to His will.
It’s healthy to consider the cost of following Jesus – of being his disciple.
Notice that the word below is “willing” – this is important because Jesus doesn’t always require such things – but are you willing to allow him to if he chooses?
• Would you be willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some of your closest friends?
• Would you be willing to follow Jesus if it means alienation from your family?
• Would you be willing to follow Jesus if it means moving away from a place you love?
• Would you be willing to follow Jesus if it means ridicule from co-workers?
• Would you be willing to follow Jesus if it means opting out of certain activities everyone is doing?
• Would you be willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job?
• Would you be willing to follow Jesus if it means less pay?
• Would you be willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of your reputation?
So what is the cost of discipleship…….. just your life…….But what you seem to be giving up here and now is so minor compared to the blessings and fulfillment that obedience brings.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
The cost of what Jesus did for us cannot be given a value – his sacrifice for us is priceless.
As Bonhoeffer said, “’You were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”
Salt Without Taste Is Worthless
“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”