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HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BE A CHRISTIAN?

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

6 SEPTEMBER 1992

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Luke 14:25-35

How much does it cost to be a Christian?

How much does it really cost?

What kind of a price tag does one have to put upon Christianity?

It's obvious that it isn't free, for they're always asking for money; and there isn't a Sunday morning when someone doesn't stick a plate under your nose, and expect you to put something on it.

And of course, if you’re in church, then you've given up part of your Sunday. How much do you suppose that's worth?

Then there are those kooks who insist on going to the Bible study. They give up even more time, and some of them spend their time and money on buying or baking something for others to eat. What do you suppose that is worth?

With all of this, we can't forget about the transportation costs.

Then there is that lifestyle that Christians are to live, and all those things they are to give up. What value can we put on that?

Unfortunately, far too many people look only at these things, when they come to consider the cost of being a Christian.

We shouldn't forget that being a Christian does cost us some time and money, but so does everything else in life.

However, there is nothing else in life, or in death, that pays a greater return on our investment.

So, let us consider how much it really costs to be a Christian.

Turn with me to Luke 14:25, and let's hear what Jesus tells us about the cost.

25. Now great multitudes were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them,

These people didn't just give up an hour or two on Sunday morning; they gave up their entire day, or perhaps several days, to be in the presence of the Lord.

Surely, this shows how strong their faith is, and how much they are willing to invest in being a Christian, doesn't it?

Is this what Jesus turned to tell them?

Let's see.

26. "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

Why would Jesus say this to the multitude that was following Him?

Instead of telling them how wonderful it was of them to give up their time to be with Him, He actually seems to be chastising them.

Why do you think?

It's probably because they were following Him for the wrong reasons.

Perhaps they were there only for the show – to see what Jesus would do – and to be able to say to others that they saw Him and tell them what He did.

So Jesus lets them know that it takes a whole lot more to really be a Christian.

And He bases it on love, although what He says doesn't sound like that at first.

Jesus is telling this multitude and us that we must have such a total and unconditional love for God that, by comparison, even our love for our families would make it seem as though we hate them.

This doesn't mean that we are to really hate them, but that by comparison to the degree of love, it would just seem that way.

But here, also, is where this investment starts to become profitable.

The more we open ourselves up to love the Lord our God, and the whole of His creation, the more His love fills us.

In turn, our love for our families also increases; so that by comparison to our former love for them, it would seem like we didn't really care before, but only now.

And just in case someone might not fully understand the cost of this commitment to love God, He tells them it will cost even more.

27. "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

We, who so casually call ourselves Christians, continue to sin as if we think that since Jesus paid the price, we don't have to worry about it; but nothing could be further from the truth.

Remember, the cross is an instrument of death, a thing upon which sinners were hung to suffer and die for what they did.

Jesus didn't say to them, "See, I am already carrying My cross; come and nail your sins to My cross, and I will carry your load, so that you can continue to have your fun and games."

Jesus said just the opposite.

He said, "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."

If we really want to calculate the cost of being a Christian, now is the time; for we must be willing to give up our own life for Christ, as He did for us.

We must be willing to truly nail ourselves and our sins to the cross we ourselves are carrying, if in fact we are carrying one.

How much do you think this costs?

It costs everything.

Absolutely everything.

Everything we have, everything we were, and everything we did.

Are we willing to give this much?

I pray so; for there is much profit in this, too.

Once we are willing to give all this up for the kingdom of heaven, we are freed from the burden of worrying about what we have; and we can live in this freedom with true joy and still have, for the time being, all that we are willing to give up.

We are to enjoy what we have and be thankful for it, but we are not to be tied to those things.

We are not to put ourselves in debt for things, and then worry about how we are going to pay for them.

28. "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?

29. "Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,

30. saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'

The Lord tries to protect us with His teaching.

It is our pride and lust for things that cause us to extend ourselves beyond our means.

And when we can't afford to pay for what we have committed ourselves to purchase, our pride is hurt.

True and godly pride is when we are satisfied with what we have now, knowing that everything in heaven is also ours.

31. "Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?

32. "Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace.

If we or any people, as a nation, live in peace, knowing and loving the Lord our God, then He will fight our battles for us.

We can't continually play with fire and not expect to be burnt, or have some of our possessions come to loss.

33. "So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

So, we must ask ourselves, "Where is my heart tied?"

And we can't hide our true feelings, for others can see the truth.

34. "Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?

35. "It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

The salt is our Christianity.

Did we try to buy some cheap imitation, and think it would last?

Or, have we been investing in the true and everlasting life with everything we have?

We can have everything and peace of mind if we simply, with our heart and soul, get out of the race for more material things, and run the race that leads to heaven.

We must be willing to freely give our lives to God, and let Him consecrate them unto Himself.

We must be willing to be loving, compassionate, peacemaking children of God that we are call upon to be, and to extend these qualities to the whole of creation: to every other human, to every other animals, and to the environment in which we all live.

We must be willing to take a stand against the warring madness that covers our earth, and causes horrible suffering to our fellow humans and other animals.

We must be willing to take a stand against all corruption, injustice, and indifference to the suffering of other living beings, and not contribute to it ourselves.

This is what it costs to be a Christian!

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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