When I consider what’s going on around White Oak these past few months, I think about something Jesus warned us about. If we’re going to follow him, we must count the cost.
As we are stepping our way through the first quarter of our Shaken initiative, many White Oak families are trusting God through great generosity. Thank you! It’s simple to know why we should be generous (because God has been so generous to us and because what we have is a gift from him). However, it’s a very different thing entirely to actually give generously. It costs something. We have kicked off 2023 with a driving theme for our church: One Another. We are challenged to take our eyes off ourselves. We are commanded in God’s Word to live out Jesus’s Kingdom values in the ways we forgive, love, serve, honor, and show compassion for one another (to name a few). The reason that Jesus commanded these things is because, on our own, they are far too difficult and far from our hearts.
There is a cost to following Jesus. He wasn’t being dramatic when he said so. He wasn’t using hyperbole. He meant what he said.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. -Luke 14:28-33
This point rings loudly in my ears and heart these days. Having recently come back from Senegal where I met several men and women who had given up much to following Jesus. They are like black sheep in their Muslim communities. Mr. “A” (as I’ll refer to him), an elderly Christian man, told us the story of he and a friend bringing the Gospel to his town as the first Christians in the area within a 50 mile radius. He told us of his doctor friend who set up a clinic and gave away much of the income to the poor as the doctor and Mr. A slept many nights on the floor.
I sometimes ask myself a very sobering question: Would I still follow Jesus if I had to give up so much? And yet, in my own context (and yours) God is calling his sons and daughters to give up much to follow Jesus in obedient steps of trust. C.S. Lewis explains Jesus’s words like this:
“…He warned people to ‘count the cost’ before becoming Christians. ‘Make no mistake,’ He says, ‘if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see the job through…’” -Mere Christianity
If you follow Jesus, He has committed to perfecting your heart and mind through the Holy Spirit living inside you. That is exciting… and scary. Are you ready for that? Think about that question before you answer it too quickly. He’s knocking at the door of your heart calling you to deeper steps of obedience, understanding, and trust. My prayer for your sake, for the sake of your family, for the sake of our neighbors and our city, and for the sake of our brothers and sisters in places like Senegal is that you’ll be ready. That you’ll invite him in. That you’ll choose Jesus. Let him do the work he wants with you.
Lewis continues to voice Jesus’s promise:
“‘…Whatever the suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect—until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.’” - Mere Christianity
Praying that you and I are ready for this next season,
White Oak Christian Church