Here is a slightly lesser-known passage of Scripture that I found interesting:
“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? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 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? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:28-33
This is an amazing yet simple parable. Jesus first gives us the picture of a tower being built. What is the very first step in the process of building a tower? It’s figuring out whether or not you can afford it. That’s what we do before buying a car, going on a retreat, or starting a project. We count the cost, because if we don’t, we end up looking like a fool, as Jesus points out next. If we don’t turn out to have enough money to accomplish our goal, people mock us for not having the sense to assess our expenses beforehand, and rightly so. We should have known.
Before giving up our lives to Jesus, we must balance the cost. What will this require? What am I getting myself into? What are the “terms of service?” If we’re willing to give God our Sundays and our money, but not willing to hand over our pride and our addictions, then we are not truly giving up our lives to Jesus; we are holding back. We are only letting God have what we want Him to have, while the rest remains stashed away in our hearts. This is not repentance. This is hypocrisy at work. When we reveal later in life that we never really committed to giving God our all, we will look like what we are: a fake and a Pharisee.
We dare not trivialize the pursuit of God. Following Jesus means so much more than just saying a quick prayer, attending church, and looking for spiritual highs (see, “The Dangers of Spiritual Highs“). We must embrace the truth. Following God is hard. Following God requires that we give up our all. Following God isn’t just a hobby we can attach on to our schedule; it’s a completely new life with entirely different priorities and desires. That’s why we call it being “born again.” It’s an utter rejection of our past selves and an all-encompassing commitment to Christ. We need to give it all up. That includes our bad habits that we say are impossible to overcome. That includes our “little” sins that we silently neglect to remove from our lives. That includes our friends who turn us away from holiness. No exceptions. Do you know of something in your life today that you are still holding on to? Anything? There has to be something. Are you sure there’s nothing? Well, whatever it is, don’t hold on to it any longer. Kneel before God and give it up. Forsake it. Let it be nothing to you. Ask God for the grace to conquer it, and keep alert lest it slip back into your life. This is what sanctification is. This is what it means to be a Christian. Praise God for His continued work in our lives.