counting the cost

A week or so ago, a friend of mine posed this question on her facebook status…

“…to follow after Jesus… What does that mean? What does that require of me?”

Of course, for followers of Jesus the immediate response comes… “everything”.

But what is everything?

My friend wasn’t looking for someone else to define this for her, rather she was inviting us to seek our hearts … to seek a deeper definition… to count the cost.

Her questions have echoed in my mind all week. What does it mean to follow after Jesus. What does it require? What does everything look like? Am I really willing to lay down all that He has asked me to lay down? Even more, am I willing to pick up what He’s asked me to carry?

In Luke 15:25-35 Jesus says to the large crowd that had been traveling with him:
25-27"Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one's own self!—can't be my disciple. Anyone who won't shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can't be my disciple.
 28-30"Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn't first sit down and figure the cost so you'll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you're going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: 'He started something he couldn't finish.' 31-32"Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can't, won't he send an emissary and work out a truce?
 33"Simply put, if you're not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can't be my disciple. {the Message paraphrase}

I am trying to picture this…  Jesus’ ministry is really beginning to pick up steam. He is preachin’ and teachin’, healing people and casting out demons.  Crowds are forming. Following. People want to be near Him. People want to hear Him. He was a preacher on the fast track to a mega-church… and He turns to the crowd and says “If you aren’t willing to leave everything, even your own children… even your SELF… you can’t be my disciple! COUNT THE COST! Only come, if you are willing to GO THE DISTANCE!  If you aren’t willing to lay down what I ask you to lay down, and pick up what I ask you to pick up… even a cross that leads to pain, shame,…death… then don’t bother coming at all.

Imagine a mega-evangelist looking into the faces of thousands and saying “If you aren’t willing to give it all up, don’t come at all.

I haven’t looked into it, but I’m pretty sure that’s not in many of the “how to build your church” books out there.  But Jesus wasn’t building a church. He was building a Church. A Kingdom.  A Kingdom that is worth it all! 

He isn’t looking for fans. He isn’t looking for a crowd of on-lookers. He is looking for disciples. People willing to leave their fishing nets at the side of the lake and follow Him. People willing to walk into dangerous situations knowing that the Gospel is worth it. People willing to sacrifice. People willing to go the distance.

When Jesus came to this earth, He knew what it would take to complete His mission. And yet He came. He counted the cost, and then He walked through this life knowing it would end with a cross. He knew the Kingdom, and He knew the Kingdom was worth it. He knew you and knew that you are worth it.  

He invites us to count the cost. To search our lives and realize what “everything” looks like. Are you willing?

When I sit back and consider… our God is so big He holds the entire universe in the span of His hand [Isaiah 42:12]… the entire universe. Consider that! Really consider it! Our own Milky Way has over 200 billion stars, and that’s only one of 100s of billions of galaxies! He holds all of that in the span of His hand! Not only that, He created all of that… with a word! With His very breath.

That’s a BIG God.

And yet He has your name carved on the palm of that very same hand [Isaiah 49:16]. He knows every hair on your head [Luke 12:7], every hurt in your heart, captures every tear in a bottle [Psalm 56:8]. He loves you enough to call you son, daughter [1 John 3:1]. He loves you enough, to lay down His very own life… for you [Romans 5:8]. That’s an overwhelming love!

That’s a crazy kind of love!

And so… when faced with the knowledge of a God who loves us so much He was willing to die for us… a God so intimate that He ministers directly to our heart… What will our response be? How can we respond half-heartedly to One who gave His everything?

What does it look like to follow Jesus? What does it require? What will it cost? What does everything look like?

Perhaps the reason this question struck me... is I have sensed Jesus asking my heart this same question for some time now. Starting several years ago when I first read Crazy Love by Francis Chan [if you haven't read that yet, skip my blog and pick it up instead!]. Over the last year there has been a greater and greater longing in my soul to live a life that is sold out for Jesus... to really play to an Audience of One... but what does that look like? What is everything? A few weeks ago I had the chance to share with a group of people some of the things God has put on my heart about living in the light of His crazy love... what it means to live a sold out life. As I prayed and contemplated and put those thoughts rattling around my mind out into the atmosphere, I realized there is so much more

So… I want to dig deeper. I want to dig deeper than I did with that Bible Study on a sold out life. I want to dig deeper on this concept of everything. I want to look into scripture, and my heart, and God’s heart, and the heart of the Body and discover what a sold out life looks like. And then, I want to live it. 

This is a dangerous undertaking. I fear the responsibility of knowing. But how much worse to be complacent. To be one who failed to count the cost… and couldn’t finish the mission.

I want to have a heart postured before Him in such a way that everything really, really, really means everything

If you are up for some dangerous living, I invite you to join me on this quest. This journey. This adventure.  Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to look at different characteristics of the sold out life. The characteristics aren’t mine… some are concepts from Chan’s book, many are gleaned from looking at the lives of Jesus and His disciples, some are insights into the lives of other believers, a few are convictions of my own heart… and your everything and my everything are going to look different. But in the end… that’s what He requires. Everything.

…to follow Jesus… what does that mean? What does that require of me?

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