'The battle is not to do what we don't want, but to want what is infinitely worthy of wanting' [John Piper]

Cost of this journey

in Our priorities

It is probably no coincidence that the growth of the Christian church is greatest in those countries where Christians face persecution for their beliefs. Once they make the decision to start walking this journey with Jesus, they need to be prepared to give up everything in their earthly lives. Very often that preparation turns into reality. Imprisonment, expulsion from families, forced redundancy or even execution are often the implications of choosing this path.

In contrast, it is too easy for Christians in “western” countries to enter the realms of being a comfortable Christian; we can seek after the guaranteed ride into heaven yet are not prepared to give anything in return.

Yet this is contrary to what Jesus demands from those who take up his invitation to walk with him. Jesus expects everyone die to self-interest, a daily ‘dying’, which, if the reference to the cross is anything to go by, can be quite painful.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

When Jesus extends his invitation to everyone to walk this journey, He does not try to trick or bribe with false pretenses. Jesus gives a very strong warning about the implications for our lives here on earth when we start this journey.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14: 28-33; emphasis added)

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It is precisely the attitude of being prepared to give up everything that motivated five men to go to the jungles of South America during the 1950s to bring the message of Jesus to the Aucas. The Aucas, known as “the Savages”, were a fierce jungle tribe who were seemingly at war with everyone, including themselves. These five men had lots of lose, all were married, four had young children, and two had already gone through the horrors of the Second World War. Their full story is told in full in the book “Beyond the Gates of Splendor”. These men eventually paid a high cost; speared to death by men from the very tribe they were trying to reach. Yet in their eyes this was not too high a price: comments by two of the men help demonstrate their attitude:

“Every time I take off I am ready to deliver up the life I owe to God” Nate Saint
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” Jim Elliot

So in one sense this journey costs us absolutely nothing; in another it costs us everything. The former is possible because Jesus paid it all; the latter is possible because Jesus enables us to respond to His upward invitation. If we place too much focus on the total cost for our own lives then we risk forgetting that this invitation is by God’s grace and grace alone; alternatively if we stress only this, then we risk walking a path based on a cheap copy of God’s grace, a path that knows little of the true message behind Jesus’ invitation and even less of what Jesus demands from us.

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These acts of repentance, death to self-interest and surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ have no merit in themselves, they are not done to any way deserve being on this journey, or to earn our ticket. Rather they are evidence that the grace and mercy of God is working in our lives. From our perspective though, they are no less personal or costly. The process of walking on this journey transforms our lives so powerfully that it confronts our will, demands our total devotion and allegiance, and calls forth our deepest commitment.

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The authentic Jesus makes demands that are both personal and costly. If we keep our minds focused on the things of this earth it is likely that we will decide that the cost of this journey is too great. Many people have reached this conclusion and turned away, walking a path that demands less from them and provides the pleasures of this earth now.

Yet Jesus is more valuable than all the earthly rewards that the world lives for. If instead we focus our eyes on the greatness of God and on eternity, then the things of this earth will grow dim in comparison to his glory and grace.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1-2)

Jesus did not die to make this life easy for us or prosperous here on earth. He died instead to remove every obstacle that prevented our everlasting joy in making much of Him.

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12)

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)

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If we walk this journey just because it is easy, then in effect we are still wanting what the world strives for – self-gratification. Yet if we suffer on this journey because Jesus is our treasure, because our sole desire is to be like Jesus, then it will be apparent to the world that our heart is set on a different fortune than theirs.

The cost is temporary, yet the benefits and joy in Jesus are for eternity.

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:25)

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. (Mark 8:35)

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Nothing can compare with the joy of walking in the light of Jesus as opposed to walking in the darkness without Him. The apostle Paul said….

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8)

In addition, Jesus has promised that throughout this journey He will never leave us.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

…. and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11)

This is the path worth walking. It is costly, and it is worth it.

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Knowing God
Our priorities
Trusting God
Worship of God
From bended knees




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