If you want to get out a loan to start a new business you will most likely have to create a business plan. This plan should explain what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, how long it will take to become profitable, and deal with other contingencies that would make a difference in your business. If the business is seasonal, what will happen in the off season? If the business is energy dependent, what will happen if energy costs rise too much? All of those things go into planning for a business. Even still a low estimate of how many new businesses fail within the first 18 months is between 50 and 70 percent. It’s tough to start a new business.
Jesus compared deciding to become a disciple to similar planning. “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?” (Luke 14:28) This goes against the grain of what most of us believe about following Christ. We think that it’s an emotional decision, often wondering if a person is sincere about their faith if their decision to follow Christ isn’t accompanied by enough tears. In an age of “easy believism” Jesus pointedly asks us if we are willing to pay the price for following Him. I don’t know if anyone has done any studies of people who accept Christ, join a church, and then fall away, but I can’t help but wonder that between 50 and 70 percent never fully accept the cost of discipleship.
The teachings of Jesus are hard. Oh, we soften them a little bit when we talk about Jesus using allegories and parables; we lighten the load when we deconstruct His really hard teachings and talk about them being appropriate in that situation, but not in all situations. Sure, He told the rich young ruler to sell all that He had and give to the poor, but that was because that guy was materialistic. He thought his riches meant that things were perfect with God. Jesus pointed out his weakness, his love of possessions over his love for God; He doesn’t demand that of others. Because we don’t have people who are materialistic today, especially not me. In the teaching that prompted the words for today, Jesus began by reminding those who would be His disciples that the path they were following, if they were truly His disciples, might lead to the cross. While I would still maintain that following Jesus is worth the cost, if you have not committed to Jesus yet, I implore you to count the cost. Don’t make an emotional decision that you won’t follow through with. Make an informed decision by seeking God and being ready to die for your faith.
Perhaps we so want people to follow Christ that we forget about telling them that it might be hard. Our culture, our Christian culture, makes such a point of big numbers that we have this inner filter against telling people that following Christ might be hard. We seem to think that if we don’t have large numbers of people deciding to follow Christ that we have failed, forgetting that when Jesus made the conditions of discipleship clear, many turned away. (John 6:66) In some areas of the world, people come to Christ knowing that their decisions may bring persecution and death. They have seen the martyrs who have been killed because of their faith, and they still commit to Christ anyway. I implore you to commit your life to Jesus Christ, but I also want you to count the cost. Take up your cross, commit yourself to a Savior worth dying for, and knowing the cost, live fully for Jesus Christ.
Oh Lord, how I wish everything got better once I committed to following You. That was never promised. You called me to be willing to die for You, as well as live for You. Help me to count the cost daily and stay faithful no matter what the circumstances may be.