2371) Considering the Cost (b)

     (…continued)  Jesus comes to different people in different ways at different stages in their lives.  In Luke 14:31-33 Jesus told the people there gathered to “consider the cost” before becoming his disciple.  They were perhaps being confronted by Jesus for the first time, so he was telling them to think about whether or not they should make that commitment.  His word to them is similar to Joshua’s word to the Israelites in Joshua chapter 24:15 where he said, “Choose this day who you shall serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

     Many generations later, when believers had children and then those children had children, infants were baptized into the believing community.  Then as they would grow up, they would learn what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.  The word of the Lord to them (to us) is more like Jesus words in John 15:9 and 16 where he said to the people there gathered, “As the Father has loved me, so I love you.  Now, remain in my love… You did not choose me, but I have chosen you.”

     The Bible speaks to different people in different ways, depending on where they are at in their faith and life.  But that doesn’t mean the words of Jesus on considering the cost has nothing to say to us.  That doesn’t mean that there is no cost to being a Christian unless you live in a place like Pakistan.

     Jesus began this section by saying that one’s faith may cause tension within families.  In verse 26 Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters; yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”  Jesus taught us to love others, not hate them, so the use of the word ‘hate’ here is a command for ‘preference,’ not outright hatred.  It means simply that Jesus must be loved MORE than parents, siblings, spouses, children, or even your own life; and obeying Jesus must be more important than obeying the desires of anyone else.  This is not an issue for everyone.  In fact, for most people it may never become an issue.  But for many people, difficult choices like this have to be made.  If this is not a problem for you, you can be thankful.

     But there will be tensions and costs to the Christian life for everyone.  In the brief New Testament book of Philemon, we see a man who is caught between what Jesus says is right and what society says is right.  Once when the apostle Paul was in prison, he met a young man named Onesimus.  Onesimus was a runaway slave who had been captured.  He would soon be returned to his master, Philemon.  Philemon was a friend of Paul’s, having become a Christian under Paul’s influence and preaching.  Paul is now writing to Philemon, and he begins by reminding Philemon that he owed Paul a great deal.   As a favor, Paul was asking Philemon to not punish, but to free Onesimus.

     Philemon will not want to do this.  Slavery was an accepted part of the Roman world.  Not only was it a loss of an investment to free a slave, but it would be perceived by others as weakening the whole structure of the system.  Rewarding a runaway slave with freedom would be certain to encourage more runaways.  Paul knew this would be a difficult request, and in the letter he exerted every kind of pressure he could.

     The earliest apostles faced intense opposition in their task of simply proclaiming the Gospel, and taking on the institution of slavery in the Roman Empire would have been impossible.  But here in this one individual request, Paul set the tone for what would later become a movement in the church to resist, challenge, and finally abolish the practice of slavery.  It would be the Christians who led the abolition movements in Great Britain and the United States.  But even the initial successes of that movement were still centuries away, so here, Paul was asking Philemon to make a costly decision.  This decision would have probably been opposed by the rest of his family, and certainly by all of his neighbors.  Rewarding a runaway with freedom would send the wrong message to everyone’s slaves.

     Philemon was beginning to feel the tension of being a Christian.  He was finding out there was going to be a cost.

     We have the good fortune of living in a society that grants freedom of religion, so many of those points of tension that were issues in the past are no longer issues.  But there still is a cost.  American Christians, extremely wealthy by the standards of the rest of the world, cannot hear the words of Jesus on money and possessions without feeling some tension.  Hearing the words of Jesus on forgiving, loving, and serving others are enough to make everyone feel some tension, wondering if we are doing all that is required in that area.  And the words in the Old Testament and New Testament on controlling our tongues and what we say about other people ought to also make us think about the cost of following Jesus.  These are just a few examples.

     Being baptized as an infant before you had the opportunity to ‘consider the cost,’ does not exempt you from now thinking about the cost and choosing he path of obedience.


Joshua 24:15  —  (Joshua said), ” If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.  But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

John 15:16a  —  (Jesus said), “You did not choose me, but I chose you.”


Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.

–St. Ignatius of Loyola


19 Best count the cost images | Words, Inspirational quotes, Me quotes

Before baptizing someone, a native missionary in Nepal asks them these 7 questions.  They are considering the cost.