My dear old hometown has an eyesore. Over the past several years, what was once a wooded wilderness has become a dirt pile that is moved regularly by various powerful machines.
But it never becomes anything. There are roads, trenches, and high mounds of red dirt. But it all adds up to a big expensive pile of nothing. Millions have been spent so far with nothing to show for it. It is our local joke. Somebody messed up. Somebody did not count the cost before they started this fiasco.
Jesus had our dirt pile in mind when he warned the crowds following him that they needed to count the cost before signing up with him. Everybody loved the food, the healings, and the "get-out-of-hell-free" card he offered. They came in droves for more of the best show in town. But he knew their hearts. It wasn't HIM they wanted. It was what he could give them to make their selfish lives better. And that was not what he came to do.
So he pointed to a massive dirt pile like ours and warned them that no builder starts building a tower without first calculating the cost. Otherwise, he runs out of funding, stops halfway, and becomes the laughingstock of the county. Then he pointed out that the kingdom of heaven worked the same way.
Have you thought of it that way? If you came to Jesus for the free stuff, grabbed your ticket, and headed back to your regular life, then you've missed it. You didn't count the cost and in the end, you will be the laughingstock of hell.
So, what is that cost?
Jesus spells it out in terms no one can misunderstand. It's a puzzle why so many do.
- "If anyone does not take up his cross and follow me, he is not worthy of me."
- "If anyone does not hate his family by comparison, he is not worthy of me."
- "If you want to be my disciple, then do what I command you."
Have you counted the cost of following Christ? Or did some greasy-smiling preacher convince you that you could have "all this and God too!" The outright lie passing for Christianity these days is appalling. Jesus wouldn't recognize it. It's certainly not the message he brought.
Salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit. Not a thing you can contribute. But true salvation results in true repentance, true dedication, and a true change of heart.
Salvation is the only free gift that requires everything you have.
And it is the only one that is worth more than you can ever give up. Be sure you've counted the cost, and have not bought into a cheap counterfeit.
The real thing is worth it.