Counting the Cost (Luke 14:25-33)
Updated: Sep 29, 2020
In fifth grade, I remember reading an excerpt from Silas Marner, George Eliot’s third novel. I was fascinated by the image of an old disillusioned man, who seems committed only to accumulating more and more gold, finding hope and redemption in rescuing a two-year-old girl from the snow. The golden locks of her hair slowly replace the gold coins as the centerpiece of his heart, and the tragic story is transformed into a lovely story of family formed, community restored, and new beginnings—new beginnings that bring redemption to more than just Silas Marner. But did Marner count the cost before he took that young child in from the cold? Did he know he would give up his gold in order to care for her? Did he know he would give up his isolation in order to create a family? Did he know he would risk his heart as he learned to love another human being again? Did he know he would risk disappointment as he decided to trust in hope again? In the challenging words of Luke 14:25-33, we are told we must hate all of the things we most deeply value in order to follow Christ, that indeed we must even “carry the cross” in order to be true disciples. What cost is Jesus speaking of? What burdens will we bear? At first, it seems cruel to ask those trying to live the golden rule of loving God and neighbor to give up the love of our family and friends, and even our own lives. But is this really what Jesus means? Or is he reminding us that we will risk the tangible things we value like gold and security and safety in order to give ourselves fully to this golden rule of loving God and neighbor? Most of us, in following Christ, have known that creating a family of Christ with sisters and brothers in the church is risky. We're no longer independent, which means we may have to carry one another or allow another to carry us. We’re no longer on our own, which means we risk being hurt by those we love and trust the most. Most of us, in following God, have discovered that even as we trust in hope, sometimes hope disappoints and even disillusions us. At those moments, Jesus calls us to carry the cross, even if it feels hopeless. Following the Jesus path means trusting that there is resurrection in the face of a cruel death, even if it seems ludicrous. Indeed, the cost of following Christ, of being a disciple, is a high cost indeed. But perhaps, like Silas Marner, we can discover (and even create) a community where hope emerges as a centerpiece as we feast on the gifts of grace and resurrection (new beginnings) that make redemption possible for all.
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