Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he 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, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. (NIV)
Discipleship is hard. Most things that are worth doing are hard though. If we are going to take our calling seriously, our whole identity gets wrapped up in the baptismal blanket. When we think of ourselves primarily as “child of God” it becomes who we are. It ascribes our identity and worth. I have been daughter of Audrey and Darrell for my whole life. I have been a beloved child of God even longer than that. I don’t want to get into when life begins, but I believe in eternal life, and that doesn’t just happen after we die. I am an agnostic on the subject of reincarnation. Have I been me in other forms before this body was paired up with my soul? I do not know. Was my essence just waiting for the right time for this body to become its expression? I cannot say. “That is above my pay grade.” as we would say in my Navy days.
Does it matter whether I know or not? I don’t think so. I trust God has it all sorted out and I don’t need to know the specifics. My faith in God doesn’t rest on whether it is one way or the other. What DOES matter to me, however, is how I live this life. This life is all I get to work with right now. My salvation doesn’t rest on how I live my life… that is taken care of by God’s grace. But the quality of life we enjoy on this earth, both me and those who are here with me, does depend on how I live my life. I get to make choices. Will I make all of our lives better and easier by choosing to be a blessing to those around me? Will I be conscious of the effect my choices have on other people? Will I choose to put my own needs above those of the stranger? Above those of my neighbor? Above those of my family? Will I choose to take out my anger or frustration with life on others? I may not think about it much, but my actions make a difference in the quality of life of those around me. Choosing to be a disciple of Jesus is my way of committing to a lifestyle that will bless those in my immediate vicinity and those with whom I have a more tenuous connection.
But what am I willing to do to follow Jesus?
Do I have what it takes to be a good disciple?
I don’t want to be a half-baked disciple any more than I want to live in a half-finished house. And I believe that being a member of a family is as much a part of my calling as being a pastor is. My husband and I often said “We were called to be in the Navy and we were called to be a family.” How we worked that out was the challenge, like I wrote about yesterday. I don’t believe I had enough to “complete the house when I began it” to keep with Jesus’ imagery. But I believe God supplies us along the way. I believe that if we continue to seek God’s guidance, trust each other, and take it one step at a time, God will give us the strength and the will and the resources to live lives of discipleship. In fact, I am more and more convinced the longer I live that in God’s world, if we have everything we need when we start a project, we aren’t aiming high enough! That’s not the world’s way. But God’s way is not the world’s way. Step forward in faith and see where God leads you.
We are continually formed and re-formed by this claim God has on our lives and the choice we are continually called to make that keep it “priority one” in our lives. We may have to give up expectations of how our life is supposed to go. We may have to give up possessions to be able to go and do what God calls us to do. We may have to live far away from those we love to complete the mission. We will certainly have to give up self-reliance and a desire for certainty and the predictability of living only for ourselves. But what will we get for it?
Blessings to you,
What have you had to give up to follow your calling? How do you live that out? Where or when have you misunderstood God’s calling? Looking back on your life, what did you fail to give up that kept you from doing what Jesus was calling you to do? Is it too late?
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.