There is no doubt about it being costly to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. There is one statement He makes about it, however, that sounds absolutely absurd, especially to North American Christians in the 21st century. The question is, did He really mean it? I think we should be finding out.
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:28 – 33 ESV
Here the King is calling for those who would follow Him to count the cost before getting started. It’s the last thing He says, however, that proves to be a real stickler.
“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
Does He really mean we have to renounce everything to be His disciple?
Look at the Context
The context of this statement begins back up in verse26.
“If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”Luke 14:26 – 27 NLT
Here the King says those who would follow must be willing to sacrifice family, friends, and their own lives even to the point of death (bearing the cross) if it should be required. That sounds pretty much like giving up everything, doesn’t it?
Why would the King require His followers to give up everything? The answer is pretty simple.
“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”Luke 16:13 ESV
The King wants there to be nothing that will compete with His claim on our lives. If there is anything we hold dearer than Him, it will cause us to stumble at some point along the way.
The rich young ruler is a case in point (Mark 10:17 – 22). He came to Jesus wanting to know what was necessary to obtain eternal life. When obedience to the Law proved insufficient, the King called him to sell all that he had, give the proceeds to the poor, then fall in step and become His disciple. The young man walked away very sad. Why? Because his possessions were more important to him that anything else. His misplaced affections caused him to stumble on the road to life. The results will be the same in our lives if there is anything that holds a greater place of affection in our hearts than King Jesus.
So What Does This Look Like?
What does this look like today? In plain words, it means consigning everything over to the King for the purpose of His Kingdom. Once this is done, our response will be one of instant obedience whatever He may require. Everything we hold dear must be held with a loose hand. This alone is the true path of true discipleship. This alone is what it looks like to be truly living in the Reign.