The cost of following Jesus

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I wonder if my last post felt bewildering to some people who read it. I want you to know that God is not a tyrant. He is not callous to my feelings. And I do believe He delights to see me and all of His children enjoying the good things He has made. But for a moment I was whining when I should have been giving thanks. Because there is so much to be thankful for, and no excuse for whining. He was taking me for a shopping spree at Toys R Us and I was whining for a happy meal toy. Hopefully that puts the “I don’t owe you anything” response into perspective.

But maybe it all still feels heavy? It is, a bit. We are called to die to ourselves daily, take up a cross and follow Jesus – follow Him to Calvary (Luke 9:23). Over and over He warned that following Him would mean sacrifice and rejection. In some cases literal death. We read stories of people who came to Him, saying that they wanted to follow Him, but He would reply with things that deterred them! “Let the dead bury their own dead” (ie: forget about your inheritance money; reject your family and follow Me; Matt 8:22). “Sell all you have and give to the poor”(Mark 10:21), “Foxes have holes and birds have nests but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matt 8:20)

He said straight out, “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” (John 12:25)

He told people to count the cost. “Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of me” (Matt 10:37)

Our salvation cost Him His life, and in return, it costs ours. We don’t earn salvation by being good enough (Jesus was super clear that we CAN’T be good enough), but that doesn’t mean it is free. The first and greatest commandment says it all “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” (Matt 22:36-40). I can’t love Oprah even a little more. I can’t love my own plans and dreams more. You cannot have two masters we are told (Matt 6:24). Your heart cannot be divided – we can only chose to do one thing at a time. What are we pursuing? Is it the kingdom of God – to be part of His work and under His kingship, or is it to gain the things we long for on earth? The things Paul and John said “are passing away” (1 Cor 7:31, 1 John 2:17)

Kingdom life is an investment of faith. We believe, like the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, that a better country is coming. This world is full of thieves who steal and moths that destroy. We can’t take anything with us. So where do we store our treasure? Are we building a stockpile of shiny things here, of fulfilled desires and satisfied career goals and the praise and acclaim of other humans? Or are we seeking the praise and crowns God gives to those who are sold out for the Kingdom of God?

There are always things we are going to want here. We may have them and get to enjoy them, or we may not. But we’re called to something higher. Enjoy these things as temporary pleasures, holding them up on open palms to God, from whom comes every good and perfect gift. But keep your eyes on eternity.

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