Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Count the cost.
Very rarely did we have to pay a ticket fee for high school baseball games. Most of the schools simply didn’t charge. I remember one game day though I had gotten lost and was running late. I was about to enter the game when I realized that I needed cash to get in. I rarely carry cash. So, I frantically looked for a place to get some cash. The little town didn’t have one of my banks, so the ATM was out (we refuse to pay fees). So, I had to find a CVS or grocery store to get some cash back. Then hustle back to the game.
Not having what I needed to get in to the game was the worst feeling ever. I hated being late. I had not counted the cost.
In his great book, What’s Wrong With the World, G.K. Chesterton writes, ““The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
To follow Christ is costly. It means that we place our love of Christ ahead of all things. This is what is meant by “hating” father, mother, wife, children, and their own life. He’s talking here about placing them under one’s love of Christ. We can’t understand this language in the way we typically use the word “hate,” that is, in an emotional and malicious way. In the first century, love/hate, was often used as showing the different categorical worth between two things. So, let’s be clear, the point of this is that if we are going to fully be able to love those closest to us, we must love Christ most deeply.
The cost of following Christ includes the carrying of our own cross daily.
Too many of us think of grace as something cheap. We think it’s handed out like candy on Halloween. The kind of grace that Christ offers is anything but cheap. It costs us everything and cost him everything.
Count the cost.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to carry my cross daily. What I’m becoming more convinced of is that this cross carrying is tied into loving my neighbor and my enemy. It’s not easy to love every day. There are many times when it would be cathartic to simply go after someone and shut them down. Often, what I want to do is, in the name of truth, make someone feel less than me. I want to win the argument and let them know how stupid I think they are.
But, if I’m going to keep my “saltiness”, if I’m going pick up my cross daily, if I’m going to count the cost, it means that I’m going to stop, pray, take off the anger, malice, and hatred, then put on love, grace, truth, gentleness, and respect.
Following Christ is not easy.
Following Christ is really hard.
Following Christ is demanding.
Following Christ is absolutely worth it.
Following Christ points me to grace.
Following Christ frees me to love.
Count the cost. Is following Christ worth it?