‘Enter the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’
‘If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. THEY WILL TREAT YOU IN THIS WAY BECAUSE OF MY NAME, for they do not know the one who sent me…’
‘LARGE CROWDS WERE FOLLOWING Jesus, and turning to them he 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. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
Salt is good, but if it lose its saltiness, how can it be made salty again: If is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
He who has ears let him hear.”
These last few days, I have been counting the cost. Counting the cost of comfort, relationships, reputation, sleep, finances, only to be reminded time and again of Jesus’ words. I WILL have enemies if I follow him. I WILL be looked at as a lunatic in the world’s eyes and also in the eyes of some in the church. I WILL experience rifts in my family because of his name. I WILL lose relationships because of his name. I WILL be misunderstood because of his name. I could possibly lose my life (literally) because of his name. When I experience cost for following him, I have two options. I can cling to him and his word all the more–which is why I got to this place, or I can believe the lies of the enemy–which have been REALLY loud. I begin asking myself,
“Do I have it all wrong? Should I just give in and tell people what they want to hear? Am I really being loving? Why does it have to be so hard? Will it ever get easier? How will this cost my future children? Will I get to see any fruit of this?”
This year, Greg and I have experienced more discomfort and opposition for the sake of Christ than ever before. We know that this will only grow stronger. As we have grown more to cling to his word and live by it instead of the status quo of Christian expectations, there has been a distinct difference in the reaction of others to us. And, there has been an increased joy in fellowship with Jesus. I am reminded daily that wide is the way that leads to destruction and narrow is the way that leads to life in Him. I also am reminded that as an American Christ Follower in the South, my cost is minimal compared to those risking their very lives in China, Southeast Asia, and around the world. But, I still must count the cost and cling to him in where he has placed me. I want to be faithful to him and love him and treasure him above all. In order to do that, my mind has to be renewed in his word daily…hourly. I look around at churches and pastors that are taking the easy way. It is hard to find a place to worship and grow where Christ is treasured and exalted above all–and his word is the guide. In times of cost, I can understand how they get there. It is hard, but I am reminded that the very power that raised Christ from the dead is in us. What is impossible with man is possible with God. It is scary when you hear that people hate you. (Especially for a fleshly people pleaser like me.) But, this is not to be a surprise. I thank Jesus that he laid this out in his word for us not to be surprised. So many times, I feel myself teetering on a fence thinking that I can get reward from the world and from God. Then I am soberly reminded that that is not true. In that moment, I am also convicted that Jesus is to be my treasure. He is the deepest, truest, costliest, most beautiful treasure. When my mind is saturated in his truth, there is nothing I want more than Him. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. This is a trust and a love that goes beyond our comfort…it trusts his very words are true and life giving. It examines every motive within us. It does not panic when someone attacks or questions or tears us down. It continues to cling with everything to the Truth…our treasure. I do not claim to have conquered any of this, but I claim to cling to the One who made a way for us to walk freely in Him. I pray for my brothers and sisters who read this to remain in Him (John 15) and his words. I also ask that you pray for our family. May he be treasured and glorified today whatever the cost.