Have you ever thought about the cost of being called to walk with Jesus? We know the cost Jesus gave to give us an opportunity to be called, but what about those he called to walk with him in the days he walked the earth? This morning I was considering what they gave up or what their lives were like when they chose Him.
In Matthew 4, we learn how Peter, Andrew, James and John all walked away from their lives. They dropped their nets as they were fishing and walked away from their boats and their father and their jobs, to follow Jesus. Or in the book of Acts where we read about the story of Saul (Paul) and how on the road to Damascus as he was hunting those who were followers of Jesus, he actually met Jesus Himself...never to be the same again. I'm guessing he lost all his friends and his standing in the community. There are many stories of the conversions of souls in those days and all they gave up.
Matthew notes the call to following Jesus in chapter 8 of his book. "When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” “Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”” Matthew 8:18-22 NIV
In Matthew 8, Jesus goes on to explain to the 12 disciples he is sending out, just how much they will be giving up and what they might experience in some places. He tells them to "Be on your guard" and that they will be disciplined by the authorities on His account. He tells them that even their families and friends will turn against them and they will be hated by everyone.
I remember always searching for some meaning in my life, for something deeper. I grew up knowing about God and how He wanted you to follow His rules and if you didn't, watch out. However, I had never met Jesus before. I always knew there was something more, something I was missing. I searched in "all the wrong places" for that 'thing' for so long.
Then a friend invited me to come to his church and to attend a class they were having where you could ask all your questions about Jesus. I was so overwhelmingly blessed by having the senior Pastor and his wife as my table leaders. I remember getting each question answered and having fewer and fewer questions blocking the way. When I started the class, I was living with a man who was separate, but married to someone else. Someone I thought was going to divorce his wife and we would live happily ever after. I remember even thinking this relationship must be from God because I was so happy. I was living deep in sin.
I will never forget sitting in that church one day and during worship, my heart broke. Jesus came and camped out. He made his home in my heart. He spoke to me, to my heart, to my deepest longing. I had searched for so long, and finally found it! I started crying and couldn't stop. After church, the pastor told me he noticed I had been crying and wondered what that was about.
In the class I had been attending, we had been discussing an upcoming baptism the church was going to be having. I had never been baptized and had always wanted to be. However, I was never able to find a 'home' in a church where that could happen. I didn't even know why I wanted it. It was something deep inside that longed for it. Now I could tell you why, but then. . .I only knew it was something I had to do!
I told the pastor, through tears, that I wanted so badly to be baptized. He was pleased and wondered why that presented a problem for me. I will never forget telling him, that I couldn't because I was living with a married man. I looked at him, feeling so broken and so very sad, and asked what I should do? In all his wisdom, the pastor didn't try to tell me what to do. He instead asked me a question. He asked, "What do you think Jesus would tell you?" (That was Spiritual Direction and he didn't even know it!)
Oh my flaming heart broke. . .right there, right then. I believe I even lost my breath. I knew what Jesus would tell me to do . . .
I knew what I had to do.
If I wanted to be baptized and live a life with Jesus, I had to turn away from all that I knew was wrong, from the sin I was living in, and walk differently. Right then, I saw how I was living and that it was not from God. Right then, the scales were removed from my eyes and I could see clearly. Right then, I had to decide.
I went to the home I had been staying in, packed up all of my things, told the man I was living with goodbye and moved back to my home. I chose Jesus!
At the time, it seemed radical, like I was giving up everything. However, I was willing to do it to have that relationship with Jesus. Now, as I look back, I gave up everything that was wrong to have a life filled with those things that bring life, love, fulfillment, peace, happiness, etc. I gave up nothing good, for everything good. Nonetheless, at that time it was a genuine struggle. I lost friends, because I changed so much. I no longer dressed like them, or talked like them, watched the shows they watched, partied like they did or partook in the fun they did. Even my family thought I was 'overdoing it'. I spent 3 months mourning this huge loss that I gave up, still knowing it was the right thing to do.
That was the cost of my call to start following Jesus.
I am certainly not comparing my cost to the Disciples or to even those who live in countries where they are not allowed to openly, publicly worship or talk about Jesus and their relationship with Him. I am just noticing that we all pay a price to follow the call.
Even with that, there is no comparison to what I have gained from that decision. I will say that most of what I have received wasn't seen for awhile. The beautiful thing is that I am still receiving newfound gifts all because I chose Jesus. I continue to choose Jesus. I finally found what I had been searching for my entire life. I had someone that loved me, even when I was living smack in the middle of sin. I believe this is what Jesus meant in Matthew 16:
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Matthew 16:24-26 NASB
Looking back, it wasn't costly to me at all.