A bundle of 100 dollars on a table

Count the Cost

Our society is infatuated with debt. We borrow money to purchase ‘what we want, when we want it’ no matter how much it costs. With Christmas still on our minds, many are dreading the coming credit card bill to discover just how much they spent this year on the holidays. Many will never know. They just keep paying the bills. Delayed gratification is a concept lost in our society.

But delayed gratification is just what we need. Spending more than we have is a growing problem because we don’t want to wait. When was the last time you saw a commercial for a new car that included the total price? Instead, we are lured to the dealer with monthly payments. Some never actually know the total price of what they purchased, especially since it eventually includes months (if not years) of interest payments. Do I have your attention yet? There is always a price to pay.

At that time, great multitudes accompanied Jesus; and he turned and said to them, “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 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 to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel 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 an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill; men throw it away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Luke 24.25-35

So, I’m not thinking about Christmas shopping today. It is just a metaphor to discuss the spiritual cost of following Christ. If we do not weigh the cost of being Christian, we CANNOT be His disciple. Christ said it, not me. Today is the commemoration of 20,000 martyrs who were burned inside a Church in Nicomedia. They lived in a time when it was not legal to be Christian, but they knew the cost.

While we are still in the Christmas season (today is only the 4th Day of Christmas) take a moment and consider the cost of continuing as a Christian. If you are reading this blog, chances are you are already a Christian. You are most likely already Orthodox, but our motto is Live A NEW Life In Christ. Today is a NEW day. Next week is a NEW year. These are all chances to live a NEW life in Christ, but first you must count the cost.

Here a few costs to consider besides the costs that Christ outlines in today’s Gospel reading.

You will be asked by the Church to be in Liturgy often, as often as you can. You can’t be Christian without Holy Communion. You can’t receive Holy Communion unless you come to Church.

You will be asked by the Church to fast from certain foods when the world around in consumed by all-you-can-eat buffets.

You will be asked by the Church to pray for your enemies and your friends, but without specifics. God knows what they need. You just need to love them enough to pray for them.

You will be asked by the Church to internalize the Holy Scriptures, when most around you consider the Bible outdated and out of touch with modern society.

You will be asked by the Church to confess your sins regularly to your priest. This means you will need to admit you are wrong, instead of always pointing a finger at someone else.

When you count the cost of being a Christian, there isn’t much different between the ancient Church and today. There are places in the world where Christians are being killed ‘just because’ they are Christians. In America we aren’t killed, we are just socially outcast. For some, death would be easier.

The cost is great, but the benefit is greater.

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