Growing up in Church something I really never heard talked about until I truly became a Born again Christian who began to study and seek after knowing the Lord more and more through His Word, was that I never really heard about the cost of discipleship.
The Word of God tells us in Luke 14:25-33 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 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.
This passage of scripture is teaching us and informing us about the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. We know that salvation is a free gift and at the moment of conversion that person is then justified by the redeeming work of Christ. Not by anything they have done but in Christ alone!! However the walk of a disciple, one who is called to follow Jesus will cost you. It may perhaps cost you much or it may perhaps cost you little but it will cost you.
One of the biggest problems of being a Christian in America is that we don't really understand what this means to count the cost. A great majority of Americans have a life of ease and comfort, a culture in which we have become so accustomed to having the freedom that has been given to us by the Lord to worship freely, having free religious speech and practices. We haven't had to really experience any type of religious discrimination or persecution as Christians in this nation that we have become apathetic to what is going on around us, so apathetic that we are beginning to see more and more attacks on Christians right here in our very own country. Now let me clarify that many of these attacks are coming by laws that are being changed in this land to make it harder on Christians to stand by their convictions without it perhaps costing them something. We have not come to the point of being put to death just for being a Christian in America, at least it hasn't come to that point just yet, however it does appear we are heading down that path and one day will be able to look back and see how it all begin to unfold in America against believers in Jesus Christ.
Sometimes I feel that pastors and church members are blinded and not noticing what is going on around us to even see we are heading in a direction in which Christians will be forced to either compromise their beliefs or face fines, jail time and possibly even death. I guess what makes it so hard for me is the fact that because we go out on the streets to proclaim the gospel we have seen the hostility and anger towards Jesus Christ, something most pastors and church members don't see because they are not actively engaged in taking the gospel to the lost to even notice it. You would also hope it would be noticed when we turn on the news and see bakers losing their businesses or being fined for not baking cakes for homosexual marriages because it violates their convictions. We also see a wedding chapel in Idaho being told they have to marry homosexuals at their business and if they don't comply with these rulings they will also be fined and face jail time.
This is all just the beginning of the end of religious freedom in this country if we continue to go down this path. Someday in the near or distant future it may be illegal to speak out against certain types of sin without being labeled as hate speech. Churches possibly being forced to comply with new laws forcing them to compromise against their convictions.
We are already seeing many so called churches compromise and looking more like the culture around us and less and less like Jesus Christ. In those cases we can honestly say they compromise and become accepting of sins because they aren't true biblical Christian churches to begin with. There will always be a remnant the Lord has raised up and will stay faithful to His Word. But we must be aware of what is beginning to happen in our country and be willing to truly count the cost of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Have you stepped back and thought if I own a business am I willing to lose it for Christ if that is what it came down to? What if as a pastor I refuse to marry a same sex couple and faced fines or jail time, would I be willing to do so for the cause of Christ? What about speaking out on the issue of homosexual marriage and the fact you might be arrested for hate speech or discrimination. Have you counted the cost of that? What about when members of a Church begin to be arrested for sharing the gospel, will the church get behind them and support them posting the bail? We can say all of these are hypotheticals and I would agree they are, but it sure does seem to be the way we are headed.
So what can we as Christians do? Well first we need to pray! Consistently going to the Lord with our prayers asking Him for the grace to persevere, to be faithful and that if it be His will to change the direction in which we are heading and bring revival to our nation. Second, we can be actively involved in voting for the right candidates and not just at the national levels but at the local levels. Also we need to be more vocal as believers, lets not shy away from the hard discussions and "controversial" topics lets engage the culture and speak truth into it. Lets take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the culture and engage the lost with the good news and not keep it to ourselves only on a Sunday morning during a church service.
Lets be honest here if we aren't willing to go out into the world and engage those around us, from our families to our friends and then to the people out there we don't even know, either because of fear or whatever the reasons or excuses we come up with. Well if we aren't willing to do it now what makes you think you are so sure you will speak up and stand for the truth of the Word of God when the consequences for doing so are much greater.
We need to count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ and if we are not willing to say Lord whatever it cost me, regardless of what it may be, I will follow you! Then we really need to ask ourselves if im not willing now what makes me think I will be willing then, examine ourselves and pray God grants us the grace to be faithful if and or when that time comes.
by Ricky Gantz
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