And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, “There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!” … So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. [Luke 14:27-30,33 (NLT)]

Jesus carrying cross - Cathedral church St. Francis - Santa FeRecently, friends toured a model home in a new community. A beautiful house, it had every feature they wanted and seemed to be in their price range. It was only after sitting down with the salesman to go over the purchase details that they discovered the true cost. The granite countertops, energy-efficient stainless appliances, and pull-out pantry seen in the model home were not included in the base price, nor were the paddle fans, bar sink, under cabinet lighting, pool, pool cage, tile backsplash, rheostats, recessed lighting, soaker tub, crown molding, or the tray ceiling in the dining room. After counting the base price and the expense of all the desired upgrades, my friends realized the cost was too great for them.

When Jesus said “count the cost,” unlike a salesperson, He wasn’t giving us a list of options with a matching pricelist. Counting the cost for following Jesus is more like hiring the best builder in town and giving him complete freedom as to the size, design and décor of the house. After agreeing to pay for both his time and material, we hand him a blank check that gives him unlimited access to our bank account. Knowing it would probably cost us everything we had, that’s not a deal most of us would make.

Fortunately, unlike that model home, God’s grace is free. Nevertheless, we must agree to certain terms if we’re going to accept it. Being a disciple of Jesus means we’re giving him a blank check with our lives and resources. Like that fictitious builder, He’s the one who determines the finished product. He takes our old selves and rebuilds us as the people we’re meant to be (which may not be what we thought we wanted to be). Giving Him carte blanche, we don’t get to say, “I’ll take the love, the usher job at church, and weekly Bible study but I’ll skip the self-denial and obedience. I’ll keep my independence and pride and take a pass on both the trials and martyrdom.” Although costly, discipleship is an excellent value and the best investment we could ever make. When we give Him our all, we get His priceless gifts of salvation and eternity with the Holy Spirit thrown in for good measure. Just sign on the dotted line.

Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? [Mark 8:34-37 (NLT)]

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