For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? - Luke 14:28
I lost to my eleven-year-old nephew in a game of chess this summer. Yes, it was every bit as embarrassing as it sounds. I was beating him quite soundly the entire game, capturing one piece after another, and suddenly he made a move with his queen and … checkmate! My king was totally trapped.
It was poor planning on my part. I was so focused on executing my next move, that I completely forgot to think it through. I lost sight of the big picture, getting carried away with the smaller ones. It cost me my dignity.
In our Gospel lesson this upcoming Sunday, we get a similar lesson from Jesus about faith. Before you make a move, make sure that you plan ahead, because following Jesus, as it turns out, is costly.
Jesus has some shocking words to all of us about faith this week. Here’s just a sampling,
“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself cannot be my disciples.”
“Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
“So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”
It amounts to what might be the worst recruiting pitch of all time. “Come to my team!” Jesus seems to tell his followers, “all you’ll need to do is give up your family, your money, all your possessions and probably your life.” Who’s first?
For the early Christians, their faith often did cost them everything, but in some ways faith also demands the same of us. Faith asks us to lay down our own lives for the sake of the other and give up our old, self-centered ways.
If you’re going to live a life of faith, Jesus tells us, you’d better think it through first because it demands everything of us. Sometimes we get so focused on the day-to-day things in front of us, that we forget the big picture about what faith is about – a love whose limit extends all the way to death.
And in that way, we all should be thinking this faith thing through a little more.