28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the 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 to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
|Don't stop midway. Finish your tower! (photo credit - http://someplacespacious.tumblr.com)|
Christianity isn't always easy. It's very restrictive. It's criticized for stopping people from having fun. The gift of salvation is free but it will cost you everything. In the wise words of Jay-Z*, it ain't for everybody.
*Jay-Z is evil. Don't listen to his music. More on that in a future post.
I once heard a pastor say that when he preaches the gospel to non-believers, he doesn't tell them their life is going to get "better" in the way that most people assume it will - for example - Jesus is going to heal your sickness, help you pay your bills, find you a spouse and get you a house. That of course doesn't mean those things are not in your future, but that's no reason to turn to Jesus. When we come to Jesus, it is for our soul's sake. Nothing else. The pastor instead tells people that life is about to become more difficult because it's hard to follow Jesus.
Repenting is easier said than done. We have to decide what is more important to us - the temporary pleasures of sin, or our eternal salvation. The answer is obvious when on paper, but in reality it's not that simple. This is where counting the cost comes in.
In reality, it's hard to give up certain things. For example, how many people would be willing to give up a relationship in the name of Jesus? Whether its a friend, significant other, or what have you. All of a sudden, your life changes, you have "seen the light" and now have a decision to make. Your boyfriend/girlfriend is still a non-believer (what the Bible calls "darkness") and what relationship hath light with darkness? They might not have told you this at the altar call. So who stays? Jesus or your boo? Now one of you has to change. Either you go back to the old version of yourself to continue the relationship (some would argue that you never changed but let's not go down that road) or your boo finds* Jesus too.
*For the record, I realize that we, as spiritually dead beings, cannot find Jesus as if it were in our power to choose salvation. It is only by the grace of God and him choosing us that anyone would come to faith. I just want to keep my phrases short. Plus it sounds funny. But you get the idea.
You cannot continue that relationship with a clear conscience because you would now be in sin. (Not to mention, your choices on who to date just got way smaller. No more non-Christians. Fun stuff, huh.)
|This is one of my favorite memes.|
In reference to the verse above, you "laid the foundation" by "converting" to Christianity, and probably told all your friends how great it is to be part of God's family and updated your Facebook status accordingly. But when the rubber meets the road, tough decisions are ahead. And it's not just about boyfriends and girlfriends, that is just an easy situation to relate to. The point is, there are things we consider very important, and Jesus has to be the priority above those. Above our family and above our career. In fact, when we put Him first, it could mean our family might suffer because of our new priorities. Remember, Matthew 10 Jesus didn't come to bring peace, but a sword...
"34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.' 37 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. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."
Are you ready to "lose your life"? Your exciting, brand-new faith could separate you from your family and friends. Can you handle that? Prayerfully, it doesn't happen that way. But it might! What is more important? What if your job forces you to lie every day to customers? Does that mean it's time for a more God-honoring career? Maybe! (salespeople and marketers, I'm talking to you...but not all of you. There's a difference between advertising and false advertising so don't go and quit your job just yet). Are you ready to tell that really nice non-Christian guy or girl (whom you have great chemistry with) that it will never work between the two of you because they aren't down with Jesus? The point is, can you turn away from things that have been part of your life for as long as you can remember, just because this old book tells you to? Are you "able to finish"?
As you move through life as a Christian, you'll increase in knowledge and as a result you'll learn what pleases and displeases God. You will not learn this all at once, but eventually you will come across something that isn't easy to give up on a moments notice. I hear that upon conversion, most people are able to immediately stop the "big sins" such as drugs, rampant alcoholism, and physical adultery (not mental). Certain things will be very difficult to rid yourself of, and no one will ever be sin free due to the weakness of the flesh. But are you willing to put in the effort to to purify yourself of all of these things that the world considers normal? Because the struggle is real. Once again, It ain't for everybody. And if you aren't struggling, there's a problem. Paul struggled and he's like top 5 people ever. We all have some area in our lives that we haven't surrendered completely to God.
The last part of the verse, talking about your army with ten thousand and the opposing army with twenty thousand, pretty much sums it all up. We, in all our power and might, cannot handle the all-powerful God. We are at war with the King and we are outnumbered. The most rational choice would be to make peace with this King, on His terms and not ours. Because we are in no position to negotiate. So while we still have time, we must make peace. We never know how much time we have left, we could be the next victim of the next random shooting (which seem to be the new hip thing nowadays). By then it's too late - no deathbed conversion for you because you didn't make it that far.
So, in conclusion, count the cost of faith. I pray that you are willing to give up the "pleasures" of this world that we are called to abstain from. Make no mistake, you will slip up and fail. And you will probably fail often enough for you to question whether or not you are a true Christian. But that is the struggle. Thank God you are at least struggling.
Next post coming soon!
If you like what you have read, dislike it, think I'm wrong on my doctrine, etc., leave a comment!