The Cost of Following God

There is a cost to everything. Whether it be financial cost, emotional cost, or the cost of time, everything that we desire comes at a cost. The more we want something, the more we are willing to pay. The less we care about something, the less we are willing to pay. Then there are those things that, so long as we have extra money and nothing else better to spend it on, we will purchase. We are constantly evaluating our desires as compared to what is available to us.

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 14.25-35

In today’s Gospel lesson for the Fourth Day of Christmas the Church asks us to consider the cost of following God. We are asked to compare our desire for God against our desire for other people and things in our life. The language Christ uses can be difficult, but understanding His meaning is crucial.

For starters, God clearly does not want us to hate our parents, or our siblings. Honoring our father and mother has always been an important part of the 10 Commandments. It is easy to love and honor our parents when compared to other people we encounter.

What is not so easy is loving and honoring our parents when they stand between us and God. For the most part our parents are not fighting against us, although we have all heard horror stories. What Christ is asking us today, is to consider if our honoring loving our parents is getting in the way of loving God.

The Church calendar is filled with examples of martyred children who died at the hands of pagan parents. I personally know many parents who belittle the faith of their children, some even throwing guilt trips at their children, to keep them from attending ‘too much’ Church or being ‘too’ spiritual.

God isn’t asking us to abandon our family. He is asking us not to put them before our love for God. So long as our family leads us to Christ, we should never hate them. In fact, God is asking us not to allow anything to get between us and God.

This challenge from God is an invitation to make sure we really want Him more than anything else. God doesn’t want us to love Him, so long as there is nothing standing in the way. He wants us to love Him especially when something gets in the way. Something is always getting in the way.

Loving God isn’t like Christmas shopping. We can’t say, “Once my list is finished, I can always come back and get God.” We either desire Him enough to leave something behind, or we leave Him behind. That is the cost to following God.

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