Tag Archives: Cost of following Jesus

God’s purpose … Or yours?


It seems we all search for meaning. We have this desire to live meaningful lives. We want to understand the meaning of suffering in our lives. Victor Frankl, who endured the harsh reality of a Nazi concentration camp observed, “We can endure any ‘How’ of life if we have a ‘Why'”. (Man’s Search for Meaning) But so often, it seems the ‘Why’ eludes us, so we keep searching.


The Holy Spirit doesn’t convict us of our eternal condition and prompt us to turn to Jesus to be ‘saved’ only to live our lives much the same as before. Such a decision involves making a swap, the old self for a new one, the old desires and ambitions for new ones. We aren’t offered an eternal insurance policy so we can go on living dangerously as before. We were called to change and become “new creations.” We see that in the disciples who dropped everything in order to follow Jesus. They were called to a new and higher purpose.


Jesus tells us there is a cost to following him that involves denying ourselves, picking up our cross, and following him wherever he goes…even to the cross. Following him requires swapping our self-seeking purpose in life for his purpose. And it’s a good purpose for living life well, in peace and harmony. But it requires a change in our plans, our lifestyles, and our habits.


Following Jesus also challenges us to change our beliefs and purpose in life, even our purpose for this very day. Society tells us to check off our organized to-do list, get ahead, grab what we can, build ourselves up, accumulate possessions, enjoy pursue happiness at all costs, live in comfort, even luxury. Scripture teaches that God’s plan and purpose for us is to be humble and generous, putting other’s interests before our own, living sacrificially, God-centered not self-centered.


Seeking first the kingdom of God requires that we seek his purpose for our lives. God’s purpose for us isn’t fame or fortune. And I don’t know anyone who willingly chooses cancer, chronic pain, rejection, or loneliness as their purpose in life. But God has a purpose for us to live as fully his even in those conditions.


Abraham was ‘fully persuaded’ that God was able to do what he had promised, and lived according to God’s purpose. Following Jesus requires a purpose in living that also is fully persuaded that God’s plan is better than our own.


Being fully persuaded means that even our small choices demonstrate whether we are following him or going our own way. Choices like becoming frustrated at small things or practicing patience; criticizing others or encouraging them.  When God reveals his truth in our lives it illuminates his purpose for us. And this always requires making adjustments to how we think and act and how we see our purpose. Seek a great purpose in living today, one filled with meaning and eternal reward.


“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.”

Matthew 16:24-27



God’s plans … Or yours?


One of the most common verses referenced on graduation cards is Jeremiah 29:11 – “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…” What a great verse of hope, that the creator of the universe has good plans for us . . . if only we will pursue them.


Of course, we have many plans of our own. We have plans that distract us from God’s presence and keep us from even thinking about Him most the day. We have plans that go against God’s will that we justify as not being “too bad.” We make happiness our life goal instead of the real joy found in enjoying God more than anything else. We have plans we think serve Him even though they aren’t necessarily His best plans for us.


Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew probably had plans to make a good living as fishermen. Then along comes Jesus who says, “Come, follow me and I will send you out to fish for people. At once they left their nets and followed him.” James and John were also out fishing, in a boat with their father. Jesus called them and they immediately left their boat and their father and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-22)  There was no discussion. They didn’t say, “Wait until I raise enough money to go on your journey.” They didn’t ask, “Will I be able to live at the same level of comfort that I currently enjoy?” They didn’t even ask Jesus where they were going. All they knew was that their encounter with Jesus compelled them to change their plans and follow him.


Following Jesus requires change. He may require us to change priorities. Instead of being obsessed with the news, sports, finance, or any other list of things, Jesus calls us to adjust our day to focus on him. He may require us to change our lifestyle. The rich young ruler found it unacceptable to give up his riches in order to follow Jesus. It wasn’t the riches that were the problem but his obsession with wealth and comfort that stood in the way of following Jesus.


Following Jesus requires us to adjust our plans to his, not trying to fit his plans into ours. It may be as ‘simple’ as switching our movie and TV viewing habits, the words we use when we’re angry, or even the things we let frustrate us.


Following Jesus might cause us to rethink our giving. Instead of thinking a 10% tithe is our goal, maybe he would have us think of it as a beginning. After all, if our life goal is to follow Jesus, shouldn’t we use all our resources for that purpose?


Following Jesus might require leaving our comfort zone. James and John left their home, their family, their livelihood, and life ambitions and goals. Why? Because God had a better plan for them. His plans always reflect His character of love, mercy, justice, goodness. His plans always reflect his purpose to draw us and others closer to him and to each other. In fact Jesus summed these up as the ‘greatest commandments’ – to love God fully and to love others as ourselves. Isn’t everything else really just following our own plans?


There’s nothing wrong with making a living and enjoying the life God gave us. But the question is, are we following our own plans and asking God to adjust to them or are we adjusting our lives so we can follow his good plans for us?


Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-6)


The cost of following Jesus -2-


God’s gift of salvation is free but there is a cost to following Jesus. One cost is putting God first, even ahead of our family. The truth is we can’t really put them in top priority without God.  One of the costs of worshipping God is that we have to set aside our worship of family in place of him.  But there’s more.


Jesus said, “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:33) His disciples took that literally as did many in the first century church. I think he is saying to all of us that everything we have belongs to God and is to be used for His purpose. Not 10%, but all of it. If we want to follow Jesus it all needs to be submitted to Him for His glory. Do you still want to follow Jesus?


Jesus says, “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.’ (Luke 14:28-29) There is a cost to be counted to follow Jesus. You may have to give up friends, job offers, or your reputation in the community. You might endure suffering, persecution, or imprisonment. Are you willing to count the cost so you can finish what you’ve started? Do you really want to be a follower of Jesus?


In the same discussion Jesus says, “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.” (Luke 14:34-35) The cost of following Jesus is retaining our saltiness, our flavor. It’s required to go all the way with Jesus. What good are we if we’ve lost this essential quality? What would you do with a box of tasteless salt? You’d throw it out. That’s what Jesus does with those who say they follow him but don’t have the flavor of His life in them. There is no lukewarm or unsaltiness in following Jesus. There is no partially committed or renouncing some but not all. There is only carrying the cross and following him. Do you really want to follow Jesus?


So how do we follow Jesus? Jesus says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” (John 8:31) None of us do it perfectly. That’s precisely why we need his grace – and power. The key is abiding in Him and letting His Word abide in us, all day, every day, in all circumstances. The proof of being his disciple is bearing fruit of the Spirit. (John 15:8) He says, “Everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another” (as he loved us). Do you want to follow Jesus? Then make these your daily aim and your life ambition. Nothing else will do. It’s a cost worth bearing.