Following Christ will cost you… are you still willing?
When selling a product, we as humans like to only mention all the positive benefits. Just imagine: You want your friend to come join you on a kayaking trip. What will you tell him or her? Well, you’ll mention the wonderful scenery, of course. The lush green woods around the lake. You tell him or her that it is the ultimate experience in nature and that the last time you went you loved it.
But… you won’t tell him or her about how cold the wind always is at the lake and how one will be sure to catch a cold afterwards. And you most definitely won’t tell him or her about the swarm of mosquitoes that nearly ate you alive. Of course not.
Jesus was different
Jesus Told the Hard Things
Jesus said from the beginning what the cost would be to be his disciple. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). The cross during Jesus’ time was not a pretty thing you’d hang on a necklace.
It was a device used to execute.
But Jesus says we should take up our cross. We should take up our execution device. I know. It sounds brutal. It sounds crazy. But it’s the truth.
Denying ourselves is not fun. No one likes ignoring the sinful desires within us. No one likes choosing the hard option. Because dying to old selves is hard. Very hard. But it is what is required to be a follower of Christ.
A watered-down message
We don’t like hearing this. Our culture has made Christianity into something like a hobby. Something fun. And we sell it as that too. “Just think about all the benefits,” we say. And we list everything you can get out of it. We have made it a feel-good thing.
No, I am not denying the power we have in us when we accept Christ. And no, I am also not denying the freedom we receive through Jesus. He himself promises:
“There is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).
But our culture has done the opposite: We have ignored the cost. Making a commitment for Christ will cost you nothing we say–-but really, it cost him everything, and you will have to lay down your life. And that part of the message should not be ignored.
The Impossibility of the Cost
But… that’s impossible
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the above? Do you feel like you can never be good enough? Good news, you’re not alone. In fact, everyone should feel overwhelmed by this. Daily dying to ourselves and talking up our cross is impossible. You can’t do it.
“So… basically you’re saying no one can become a follower of Christ because no one can meet that standard?” Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.
Jesus himself said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25). In the eyes of the people 2000 years ago, if anyone could enter into the kingdom, then it would be the rich. But Jesus denies this, saying it is impossible.
Did you hear that? It is impossible. But don’t forget to continue reading in Mark 10. There you find that Jesus continues with, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).
What was impossible for us, Jesus made possible, though his perfect life here on earth and his ultimate sacrifice at the cross. He was a living example of what a follower of Christ should be. He denied himself daily and then took up his own cross – both literally and figuratively.
The cost of following Christ
The requirements to be a follower of Christ are impossible for us to reach. We cannot be “good enough” for him. However, if we truly commit our lives to Jesus, then he gives us his Holy Spirit. With this power working through us, yes, it is possible to deny ourselves daily and take up our cross. But you have to be willing.
Following Christ will cost you your life… are you willing?