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Let’s chat about the price of following Christ…

Maybe I was sick the day we counted in Sunday School. Yeah, that’s it. Maybe I inadvertently skipped Small Group the night we talked about tallying.

Humph.

Truth is, when 8-year-old-me professed faith, and even when adult me more decisively “rededicated my life to Christ,” no one said, “For real. Count the costs.”

A heads-up would’ve been nice. Something like…

“Hey, splashing around in the shallows will end; it has to. At some point, you’ll get plunged deeper…beyond places your toes can touch…and you’ll spend the rest of life there as both God and the Adversary try to drown you—in very different ways and for very different reasons.

So, consider now that you’ll get brow-beaten, drop-kicked, mocked. You’ll reach for a friend, and none will be found. Cry out to God and not hear a sound. Resign relationships. Suffer abuse. Cede promotions. Wrestle anxiety. Writhe in poverty.

At some point, you’ll want out. God is hard to understand; his ways are difficult to appreciate and can seem demanding. Knowing this, do you want to walk away or stay?”

To be fair, even if some brave soul had spoken to me, I probably wouldn’t have listened…or made an appropriate calculation. I couldn’t have fathomed the price of the discipleship of Christ. It truly costs evuh.ree.thang.

You know where I’m going here—to those exacting words of Jesus about true disciples having to calculate their loss, bear their cross, and obey him (Lk 14.25-33). The Lord wants us deliberately review the consequences of following him, in part because the Christian faith is a work of calm and determined purpose that requires soberness of thought in addition to the devotion of heart.

Even before conversion, the Lord wants us prepared to pay for his discipleship.

If that seems offensive or legalistic, well, #Sorry. The saying is true; “nothing in life is free,” not even salvation. In reality, salvation is the costliest thing ever…except that we humans don’t pay…God did…once and forever…with his own life. Sanctification isn’t free, either. The discipleship of Christ by his Spirit is the second costliest thing ever…except we do pay…daily…with our own lives.

Payment begins with the uncomfortable, but kinda expected stuff like a few shallow friendships or a promotion we want. Then, it nabs deeper things, like our naïve worldview that made life more manageable. At some point, it comes for our allegiances to individuals and institutions. It snatches our reputations, possibly our liberties and lives, causing us to suffer pains and endure all manner of discomforting things. Perhaps most painfully, it will come to collect our dreams and desires—the deep-seated longings that have been our dear companions but now, after everything else has been sold, must be, too.

The whole process is excruciating, for sure. Jesus spoke in earnest about his discipleship costing everything that we have. Evuh.Ree.Thang. Every affection and possession. Every failure and triumph. Every gift and skill. Every relationship, whether broken, redeemed, real, or imagined.  

Dear one, when we follow Jesus in this way, we stand smack-dab in the center of historical Christianity…right alongside the Messiah, apostles, church fathers, monastics, Reformers, and the host of faithful saints who deliberately counted and personally paid and eternally celebrate.

How have you prepared yourself to “count all things but loss for Christ” (Php 3.7-8)?

How can we prepare others to do the same?

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Amy Leigh Bamberg

Amy Leigh is a writer, landscape designer, organizational development specialist, and teacher living in Dallas, Texas. Her articles address themes in faith, culture, creation, the church, theology of the body, theology of women, and relationships.

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