Friday, October 26, 2012

The Cost of the Tower - The Cost of Peace

The Cost of the Tower – The Cost of Peace

 

“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. “ – Luke 14:28-32

A few years ago, I got out my scissors and did what my sister-in-law refers to as “plastic surgery”.  I cut up all my credit cards except one.  I’d read Dave Ramsey’s book, “Total Money Makeover” and decided it was time to make a change.  The problem I had with credit cards is that I’d forgotten to consider what things really cost.  It’s just a slide of the plastic through a machine, quick and easy.  But when the biggest bill coming to your house is the credit card bill, you’ve created a problem.  You’ve even become addicted to your plastic.  The only way to get rid of an addiction is to admit you have a problem, and turn from it.  And so I did! Snip! Snip! Snip! Considering what it was costing me, being free of debt was worth what I was giving up, which was being able to haul out of stores arm loads of things I really didn’t need.

In Luke 14 Jesus tells us to consider the cost as well, but this time it’s the cost of discipleship.  He starts by saying something that sound harsh and even impossible to follow.  He begins in verse 26 saying 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.  This may seem contradictory to the love we’re taught to have for each other in other scriptures which say to love one another even as Christ loves us (John 13:34) and that if we hate our brother who we have seen, we can’t say we love God who we haven’t seen (1 John 4:20).  But what is really being said is not ‘hate’ as we know the word but ‘love less’.  To be a disciple of Jesus, we must love Him more than all others. 
He brings this up to tell us that being a disciple has a price tag, and just as with any other endeavor you have to consider the cost before starting, we should consider the cost of being a disciple.  He goes on to use the example of a man building a tower, and says that the man will first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it”.  Otherwise, he’ll get part of the way through the build and not be able to finish, and “all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” 

Have we not known Christians like this that begin with a burning love for Christ, fellowshipping and following with all enthusiasm and then one day they fizzle out?  Something they had was of a greater love in their life than Christ, and they just couldn’t let it go.  Most of the time, the ‘thing’ is self, and from time to time, self will take center stage in all our lives.  We want to soften the blow of what Jesus said about taking up our cross and following him, but it is a cross.  A cross has one purpose, and that’s death.  Unless you’re willing to crucify your own will, your own desires, you cannot be a full-time disciple.  That is why so many will fill the pews on Sunday morning, fewer will fill them on Sunday nights, and even fewer remember their calling on Monday morning.  Jesus says to consider the cost of following so that we don’t get mocked that we were “not able to finish”.   

Then Jesus turns from building a tower to war.  He compares discipleship to a king planning a battle, and says that the king will “sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand” and if he can’t win he will send “a delegation and asks for terms of peace.  
You have to also consider the costs of not following Jesus.  Consider the peace to be gained.  Make no mistake that it is a daily battle trying to keep self on that cross when self wants to climb down and take over.  But the peace that comes from following Christ just can’t be compared to anything else. He is there when the baby is sick, and you can’t make her better.  He is there when the bills are stacked up, and you have to decide which to pay and which not to pay.  He is the love that warms your heart when the world is cold.  He holds your hand when you are afraid.  He whispers peace when your life is chaos. 

Jesus ends by saying in Luke 14:33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.  What I found with the credit cards was that they were not worth what they were costing me, which was peace.  When we count the worth the things we hold between us and following Christ, between following self and being a true disciple, we will find Him of greater worth.  Consider the cost. 

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