NEVER PAID THE COST
As local churches, ministry leaders, and pastors, we understand that being a follower of Jesus Christ is worth it because of the many eternal blessings. However, the cost of truly following Jesus is seldom considered. The truth is that many people will profess the name of Jesus but they will never count the cost of following Him. Time after time, people will call upon the Savior, yet, they do not live the regenerated, transformed life because they have never paid the cost. In doing so, they continue to dwell in the worldly, sinful patterns of life. Professing Jesus is one thing, but the commitment to follow Him comes with a great cost.
A COSTLY PERSPECTIVE
In Matthew 8:18-22, Jesus puts this cost into perspective as He is met by a scribe (a teacher of the Law). The Scribe declares to Jesus, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” You would expect Jesus to be ecstatically happy to gain another disciple, right? Instead, Jesus wants the scribe to consider the cost: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Essentially, Jesus says that the Christian life will not be easy or comfortable. Following Him will entail a life of trouble and suffering as it is all about having nothing and sacrificing the comfortabilities of life.
As if the scribe’s declaration was not enough, an unknown disciple who also desires to follow Jesus says, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” In reply, Jesus offers another costly perspective, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” Wait. What? One would think that Jesus would show mercy and grace to another person who wants to honor His Father. As important as that duty was, Jesus desired for the disciple’s complete and utter allegiance to him.
In Luke 14:25-33, the commands are even more explicit. Again, Jesus calls for us to disown the family, but He takes the command to another level when He challenges us to even deny our own lives and to bear the cross. It is not without a doubt that the commands of Jesus are extreme. It goes to show us that if we want to be a true follower of Jesus Christ, then we are going to have pay the cost. Thus, the consequence is to give up everything in the world such as our comfort, our families, and even our own lives so that you can make this total commitment to the Lord and his ways. This is the highest commitment that one can make. This cost is definitely heavy. It is not an easy choice to make, but it is very rewarding at the end of the day.
SAVIOR, BUT NO LORD
As local churches, ministry leaders, and pastors we have all seen, heard, or been a part of these large-scale Christian conferences, camps, and retreats where the call to receive Jesus as your personal savior is done with such ease and accessibility. All you have to do is simply raise your hand, say “Yes!” to Jesus, or pray the sinner’s prayer and voila, all of life’s problems are solved. Afterwards, we then celebrate the number of saved lives as an accomplishment on our part and then we send these souls back into a broken world.
However, this is where we as local churches, ministry leaders, and pastors fail in faithfully shepherding our people because we did not show them the great cost of being a Christian. Because more than not, these people return back into the reality of a world that easily captures the attention of their hearts and minds, which causes them to fall back into sinful patterns of yesterday. At the end of a day, they may have a savior but lack the Lord who wants their undivided attention and complete allegiance to the kingdom of God.
BEING COST EFFECTIVE
If we truly consider the cost of following Jesus in light of Matthew 8:18-22 and Luke 14:25-33, then we as local churches, ministry leaders, and pastors must aim to do better than what we have always done in the past. Often times, we may think the hard part is just getting people to commit to Jesus as their savior. But Jesus’ counter-cultural commands remind us that committing to follow him as Lord is when the difficult part begins.
Thus, intentionally discipling others is to be of great principle in our ministry to the people that God places in our lives. In discipling, we can effectively show our people what it means to pay the cost in following Jesus. Discipling will allow for us, especially on a personal basis, to account, to admonish, to lead, and to faithfully teach the person, pre- and post-conversion, so that they will be able to pay the great cost of following Jesus. Getting people to commit to follow Jesus as Lord is laborious, but if we intentionally disciple, we also provide a model of the costly sacrifice through our own lives for that person to see. Exemplifying such cost only makes it that much more effective, enjoyable, and rewarding to walk in Jesus’ ways.
CHANGING THE TREND
For far too long, we have produced great numbers of people who professed Jesus but never truly followed him or his ways. It is truly sad because their biblical convictions are shallow and their participation in the church life is nonexistent. But as local churches, ministry leaders, and pastors may we have the urgency to change this trend through discipleship. As we usher our people towards the cross, may we have the courage to disciple them to live a life that has paid the cost to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Phillip Her (BS, Simpson University) is a husband of Paulina and a father to Peyton. He also has been serving as the Children's Ministry Pastor at Denver Hmong Alliance Church since August of 2016.