There's millions of ideas for blog posts that rush through my mind in a given day (okay, not really, but tens at the least). Finding the time to write them, though... that's another story. At any rate, I remain committed. So, I was working on a devotion recently for our new 31 Verses Every Teenager Should Know book (you can check out the others here). The 1 of the 31 I was working on at the time was Luke 14:33:
"In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."
Now, you'll notice that this verse begins with the phrase "in the same way," which makes you wonder, "in the same way as what," which lets you know that if you're just reading that verse by itself, then you're missing out on something, the context. So, you really need to back up and read some more. For the sake of what I'm writing about here you might want to check out verses 25-33 of that chapter. In case you don't feel like it, let me break it down for you.
Jesus (of Nazareth, the Christ) had just chosen to turn a lovely dinner party with some Pharisees into a series of teachable moments during which He could kinda stick it to them and the other guests (lovingly stick it to them, of course). This culminates in a parable about a wealthy, well-t0-do man who was throwing a great banquet. His invited guests all had other things to take care of. So, they were blowing him off. As a result, he decided to pretty much invite anyone and everyone who would come, including almost exclusively the dregs of society. Well, this sounded great to the dregs and a whole lot of people started following Jesus around wanting to know what He was all about.
Jesus decides to oblige them by fist and foremost letting them know that, just becaue they're all invited to the feast, it doesn't mean that life's simply going to be one big party. He uses some pretty harsh langugage about how a person can't be His disciple unless they hate everyone in their lives, including themselves. This is obviously shocking (most are probably hoping its some sort of divine hyperbole). So, Jesus uses a few metaphors to explain what He's talking about.
It's like a guy who wants to build a really big tower or a king who wants to go to war. Both are facing extremely daunting tasks, tasks at which, left to themselves, they wouldn't be successful. So, each sat down ahead of time and figured out what it was going to cost them and whether they could and/or were willing to pay that price.
So, it's in that same way, in the same way as those two guys, that a person who does not give up everything cannot be Jesus' disciple.
Now, I can't read this verse and think of Jesus saying something similar to the guy we know as "The Rich Young Ruler" (or RYR for short). During that encounter (which you can read about in Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31 or Luke 18:18-30), as I'm sure you remember, the RYR comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to keep the commandments to which the RYR responds that he's done that (impossible, by the way). So, Jesus tells him that the only other thing he lacks is to go sell everything he has, give the money to the poor and then leave his life behind and follow Jesus. When the RYR hears this, it says he was saddened, and from what we can tell, couldn't give up all that he had.
Now, these two different moments with Jesus are obviously dealing with the same issue, the price one is willing to pay to follow Him. However, with regards to the RYR, it seems that Jesus is making a requirement (and trying to get to the core of the RYR's obstacles to following Jesus in the process). Whereas, in the previous instance with the crowd, it appears that it might be more of a willingness to give up everything as opposed to actually having to do so. After all, for most of us, following Jesus won't result in us having to abandon our homes and families, give away everything we have or sacrifice our lives... but it might. So, we just need to be willing to have that happen, should God deem it necessary.
So, as I was writing this short devotional (less than 300 words) I wanted to make that point in my summarizing sentence. Something like, "Jesus calls us to take the time to determine if we would still follow Him if it costs us everything, even our lives." And leave it at that. But something kept nagging at me. The idea that it actually does cost us everything to follow. When we do, nothing is our own anymore. It is all His. We may not be called to sacrifice it or abandon it as it might sound, but we no longer control our lives or approach these things in the way we would want to. It's now all about Him and what He wants, not all about us and what we want. I was trying to water down what He was saying, to make it sound better, feel better, go down easier. I think I was selling it short. So, I wrote a new closing sentence.
"Jesus calls us to take the time to determine if we would still follow Him if it costs us everything, even our lives, because, in a lot of ways, it does."
Anyway, I know that this isn't super-deep or insightful or groundbreaking or anything, but it's something I've been thinking about for a few days now.