I want to introduce my friends and family to perhaps one of the most remarkable people I have ever read about. Katie is 21 years old, has 14 adopted daughters, and feeds hundreds of children everyday in Uganda. The following excerpt if from her blog today. Her ministry is Amazima which is the button on the right side of my blog. I think she grasps the Gospel in a way that few of us do.
A few days ago an American woman who had spent about three days of her life in a third world country looked at me and said, “I would SO love to do what you do. I would do it in a heartbeat. Oh, I would take 14 kids in a second!” It is a good thing that I was having a graceful day, because I said, “Aw that’s nice.” But my not so graceful heart was angry. And the not so graceful voice in my head wanted to say to her, “Ok then, do it. I can have you 14 orphaned, abandoned, uncared for children tomorrow. So here is what you have to do: Quit school. Quit your job. Sell your stuff. Disobey and disappoint your parents. Break your little brother’s heart. Lose all but about a handful of friends because the rest of them think you have gone off the deep end. Break up with the love of your life. Move to a country where you know one person and none of the language. And when you are finished, I will be here waiting with your 14 children!” I wanted to ask her what was stopping her, knowing that the answer would be her comfort. I wanted to look at her and tell her that my life was full and joyful and WONDERFUL, but I also wanted to tell her to COUNT THE COST. Because my life IS full and joyful and wonderful, but it is NOT easy. My life is NOT glamorous. I do not expect it to be. I do not think that anything about carrying a cross was easy or glamorous either.
Which brings me to my point. I am not actually that angry about what that woman said, it was just an offhanded comment. But it got me to thinking… How many times to we grieve our sweet Savior’s heart because we refuse to COUNT THE COST? How many times do we choose comfort instead of the cross?
In my NIV Bible, the header above Luke 9:57-62 says, “The Cost of Following Jesus.” Here it is, plain and simple, laid out for us by the Lord. “As they were walking along the road, a man said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my Father.” Jesus said to Him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you Lord, but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts His hand to the plow and looks back will be fit to enter the Kingdom of God.” THIS IS SERIOUS STUFF.
A little later in Luke 14:25, “The Cost of Being a Disciple,” Jesus tells the crowds gathered around Him, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry His cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 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 complete 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 consider if 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 ask for terms of peace. In the same way any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”In Luke, in the days of Jesus, He expected EVERYTHING of his disciples. Do we believe that He requires the same today? We sure don’t act like it. If you ever read my blog or have heard me speak then you have heard me reference Matthew 25, the parable of the sheep and the goats. Jesus basically looks straight at the crowd and tells them that when He comes back, those who have seen the needy and met their needs will come with Him to heaven. He also says that those who have seen the needy and done nothing will be sent away to “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Right, hell. This is heavy, I know, but I believe that it is TRUE. I believe that the words of Jesus are timeless and therefore still apply to anyone desiring to be His follower today. (Oh, and in case you think you can get away with saying that you have not seen Jesus naked or hungry or thirsty or in need and therefore you are off the hook, let me help you. 30,000 children will die today because of hunger or preventable disease. There. Now you know. Now you are responsible too.) Faith without good deads is DEAD, my friends. Yes, I believe fully in salvation by His grace alone. I do not believe that anything we do or work for will save us. I also believe that if we are indeed saved, meaning that He lives inside of us, we will desire to do what is pleasing to Him. That if we really love Him with all our hearts and all our strength, NOTHING will feel like sacrifice in light of the promise that one day we will get to be with Him forever. Automatically, we will help those in need, we will give our all, we will love our neighbor as our self, because our heart is aligned with His. But so many don’t. This then begs the question: If we are not walking in the words of Jesus, do we truly know Him? Do we really know and believe in the Jesus of the Bible. Because if we do, if we believe what He says is true, our lives will be powerfully, unimaginable, radically different than the lives of those around us. He requires EVERYTHING.
I wonder today if I had been one of the people listening to Jesus as He spoke in Luke 9 and 14, if Jesus would have convinced me to follow Him or if I would have walked away. I believe I would have really really wanted to say goodbye to my family. I wonder about “Christians” today. We wear Jesus on our T-shirts, we wear His cross around our neck and a bumper sticker with His name on it on our car. Have we just laid the foundation without being able to build the building? Does Jesus feel like I did when a woman I didn’t know told me she would love to do what I do but I knew that she never would? Do we claim the precious name of Jesus Christ without counting the cost? Without being willing to REALLY give it all? And does Jesus, in His infinite grace, look at us and say, “Aw, that’s nice,” but really with the furry that he flipped over the tables in the temple want to spit our lukewarm selves out of His mouth?
This is heavy on my heart. I have spent hours typing it to get the words out right and still I feel like I am rambling. If you would like more references on God’s heart for the poor, try Isaiah 56-58, Proverbs 14:31, 21:13, 28:27, Matthew 19:16- 30, Luke 6:20-25, 18:18, James 5:1… Please feel free to add more in your comments! If we believe that these words are true, the way we are living is not tolerable. How can we live in willful disobedience and claim to know Jesus Christ?I do not claim to have the answers.
I do not claim to be doing it right. I do claim to believe that the words of Jesus are absolutely true and apply to me, right now today. I want to give EVERYTHING, no matter the cost. NO MATTER THE COST. Because I believe that nothing is sacrifice in light of eternity with Christ.
Please take an hour of your time to listen to this sermon my David Platt of Birmingham, Alabama. I pray that it would drastically change your life: www.brookhills.org/media/series/radical