Jesus Wants You On His Championship Team: But There is A Cost, Total Dedication

Posted: March 25, 2015 in Gospel of Luke

Luke 14:25-35 — Counting the cost of following Jesus Christ. What? There’s a cost? It’s not always going to be easy? Hmmmm.

Have you ever wanted to do something but after you got into it you found out that it was really a lot harder than you thought? Being a member of a football team for example looks like a whole lot of fun on Friday nights (high school), or Saturdays (college), or Sundays (professional). At each level of the sport, the commitment becomes greater and greater. In high school and college, not only do you have to practice almost daily and study the playbook, film and game plan for the upcoming game, you still have to go to school. It looks like so much fun when you are at the games. Then, in the media and by their supporters, these athletes are given star status. Sure there are those who do not dedicate themselves to their studies, but most do and it takes real sacrifice to be a football player. In the pros, although they no longer have to worry about studying for school, they have to increase their level of knowledge of the game, increase their practice time, and simply their dedication to the sport. It may look glamorous on television. These athletes get the money, the cars, the girls, the glamorous life. But what we don’t see is the amazing amount of work that must go into being a professional football player. Only those that are truly talented, and truly dedicated to their craft remain. At all levels of the sport, if you are not dedicated to doing whatever it takes to be successful at the sport, you will fall away. Many want the glory and status accorded these athletes but few want to do all the work necessary to be worthy of the status. It is easier to quit than do all the hard work.

I think if American football would have already been invited during the first century, Jesus would have used it for illustrations. He may have used it in this passage. Jesus probably would have been a great quarterback too. The Son of God goes back to pass, it’s a perfect spiral perfectly placed….I digress….must get back to the point. Jesus makes the point here that there will be a cost to following Him. His following had become pretty signficiant by this point. He was achieving rock star status by today’s terms. There were large groups of people following Him from town to town. It was the new cool “in thing”. Jesus was so different. Following Him was probably considered cool. Jesus’ way of looking at things was very radical. New ideas often attract crowds…at first.

Jesus uses illustrations of the cross, the very powerful evidence of Roman rule and the very method by which He would die. Jesus uses the illustration of constructing a building. Jesus uses the illustration of going to battle against a larger force.

Jesus used the cross to indicate to His audience that those who were superficial in their support of Him would fall away when it would really cost them something. The cross was one of the cruelest forms of punishment invented by man. The Romans not only nailed you to the cross they made your carry it through town to the place of execution as a form of public humiliation and display of power of Rome. Are you willing to be a Christ follower when the going gets tough? Are you willing to be a Christ follower when it might be humiliating to you? Are you willing to die for Jesus? Here in America, this is a real question. We live in such cushy comfort. We do not even come close to being physically persecuted for being Christian. We may be someday but for now the worst we get is ridiculed or marginalized by an increasingly secular society. Even as we seem to be losing ground in the public debates of what is acceptable in society and what is not, we still do not know persecution in the same way that a North Korean or Chinese Christian. We do not know persecution in the way that Middle Eastern Christians in the Islamic nations there know persecution. How many megachurches or churches at all would we have today in the US if we suffer persecution at that level.

Jesus uses the other illustrations to show us that we must consider the cost of being His follower. Whether it be subtle or blatant, there is a cost. We may be called by God to leave the cushy comfort of our 5 and 6 figure jobs to go spread the gospel in the slums of Mumbai to girls trapped in the sex trafficking trade. We may be called to leave our two story home to live in the Islamic dominated nation of Malaysia to spread the gospel to those who have been taught that they will be killed if they leave Islam. We may be called to preach the gospel in Amman, Jordan where ISIS would behead you as soon as look at you. There is a cost. We may be called simply to leave your current career to become a pastor of a local church here in this country. You may be called simply to stand up for Jesus rather than blend in with your surrounding culture. We may be called to stand up in compassionate ways against that which our culture accepts and glorifies as the new normal. We may be called to not look the other way when our company’s management wants to do something unethical and wants you to participate in it. It may be that we are called simply not give into premarital or extramarital relations when our flesh cries out that its gonna be so good. It may be that you are called to give tithe rather than buy a new car every two years, or have that jet ski. It may be that we are called to serve our fellow man rather than go on that summer vacation to Barbados. There is always a cost of being a Christ follower that involves humbling our fleshly desires and doing what Jesus called us to do, love God and love others. Really love. Really care about where others will spend eternity. Care about it so much that we dedicate ourselves, whatever the cost, whatever the sacrifice may be, to spreading the gospel, living lives that show who He is, living lives of integrity, living lives of service to others, living lives that create disciples that create disciples.

Just as being a football player seems glamorous from the outside, it is a lot of hard work on the inside. It requires constant dedication in this day and age. It used to be that football players could forget about football for a while after football season. Now, at all levels, it requires constant effort. Football is a whole lot more than being in the spotlight in the state championship game, or the national championship game, or the Super Bowl. There is a whole, whole, whole lot of work that goes behind it. Not everyone is willing. That’s the difference between a championship team and those that are not. A championship team is the one that puts in even more effort, dedication, willingness to submit to the needs of the team than the others. Jesus wants to be a championship team. He wants those who are aware of the sacrifices necessary to be His true followers. He hates lukewarm (see Revelation 3 and the Church at Sardis). He does not want half-hearted followers. He wants our whole heart. but He warns us there will be a cost at some point in our lives where it is crunch time. There will be a time where we must choose between Jesus and our comfort, between Jesus and the crowd’s desires, between Jesus and maybe even our life. There will be a cost. Are you and I willing, ready, and able to say Yes Jesus I will pay the price.

Father, may we live lives that speak of you no matter the circumstance, no matter the cost to us. Help us to be so submitted to you that we do not care what the world throws at us. Help us to be so dedicated to loving you and loving others that we will seek to please you above all the comforts of this temporary world. Amen.

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