There is a cost to everything. The free little puppy that turns into a large dog that eats you out of house and home and then possibly chews on part of your home. This dog will need a large amount of attention. Then the dog needs tick and flea medication, grooming and many trips to the vet. This free puppy turned into a costly endeavor. A free lunch might be free to the person eating it but there was preparation costs and someone’s time. You may be thinking I need a second vehicle or maybe a boat. How much is the license, insurance, maintenance, docking costs, fuel etc.? So it is important to count the costs before making a decision.
                The same applies to Christianity. There is a sense that everything is free. God’s grace is given to us and we are saved and there is no cost to us at all. Paul said in Ephesians 1:6 “to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us.” This is amazing but there is still a cost even though this grace was freely given. Many emphasize our relationship with Jesus is all faith and no works but there is works as James tells us. James 2:7 “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” No you cannot work your way into heaven with your good deeds but there is work we have to do. James goes on to say, James 2:20 “You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
                Today the church just wants you in church. They also want your money but that is not the cost I am talking about today. Paul tells Timothy to 2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” To keep people in church, you do not want to offend them with words like admonish, rebuke and repent. If you do offend them people will leave and go somewhere else to have their ears scratched and you may loose your job. If you correct, rebuke or admonish or tell them to repent, someone will leave. True repentance is not emphasized but coming to church is.
                What should be happening is for people to know the costs of discipleship. Jesus told us Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Jesus also tells us Luke 6:22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.” The other day I talked about ministry as a job. Ministers don’t want to offend the people because they might loose their job. Just like it’s easier to get rid of the coach than to fix the team, it is easier for the pastor to move on. That is not very good job security. If you are unprepared for this hatred because you are faithful to God’s word, you may want to write that down as a cost. Yesterday I talked about putting God before even your family. Luke 14:25 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” Are you willing to obey God and follow Him even if it costs you your family? Remember God is looking at your heart and he said he would bless you for your commitment to Him. Mark 10:29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” This is another cost to write down on your list.
                Jesus continues and says Luke 14:27 “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Will you persevere? Are you ready to die for Jesus and yes some will. Hebrews 10:32 “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Hebrews 11:35 “There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” So yes there is faith and works and cost.
                Jesus goes on to say Luke 14:28 “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? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 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. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Where you aware of this cost? Many will say yes that is until Jesus says to them as He said to the rich man; sell all you have. Mark 10:17 “As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother. 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Jesus looked into His heart and though he was on his knees and followed the letter of the law, he was not prepared for the cost.
                Jesus also gives us these costs. Luke 9:57 “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” If you think discipleship is the weekly event of going to church for an hour you are sadly mistaken. There is a huge cost and it is your life. Nothing, including your life can come in-between you and God. Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”        
                Then Jesus gives us this illustration on how to stay the course. Luke 9:62 “Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” I am not a farmer but I like the lawnmower’s wheel lines to be straight when I cut the grass. If you look away your lines are crooked. To plow a straight furrow, you pick a point way off in the distance and never look away until you get to the end. One person gave this tip. “Aim at something in the distance and drive straight at it. Do not do what a friend of mine did and aim at a cow in the next field.” I realize that modern farmers may not remember this technique with their GPS navigation that gives them precision farming. As one person said “they just have to bring the tractor to the field.” Really the two are similar. We are supposed to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. When God is guiding us, that is about as precise as you can get. Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
                Are you willing to count the cost or will you just stay lukewarm and comfortable? When confronted, admonished or rebuked, will you turn away and say Isaiah 30:11 “Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel,” and find somewhere else more appeasing to your appetite? Or will you repent and submit? Will you follow Jesus no matter what it costs you? Are you willing to give Him your family, your work, your comfort, your house, everything you own; your own life? Going to church is the easy part; actually being the church will cost you your life! Matthew 19:27 “Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”