My son-in-law came over to our house a few days ago to help me assemble the wooden structure we use to represent the stable in our outdoor nativity scene.
Actually, the more proper description of what took place is that I gave him a hand while he did most of the work. I did help him carry and lift the heavy roof into place. And I was able to find the box of screws we needed for the job. But my son-in-law did the actual assembling.
After all, he’s the one who originally created this stable out of wooden pallets and a few other small pieces of lumber as a Christmas gift for us a few years ago. So he knows exactly how it all should fit together.
Once the job was completed, I thanked him and commented, “You didn’t know when you first gave us this present that you were giving yourself so much work to do to help put it up each year.”
But my son-in-law graciously responded that he did know what he was getting into at the time. He had figured I would need his help to reconstruct the stable every Christmas season.
I was glad to know that my son-in-law had “counted the cost” before he presented us with this gift. I would hate to think that it had become an unexpected, dreaded job or burden on him. His gift wasn’t just a one-time act, but an ongoing commitment for years to come.
When we give ourselves to Christ to be His followers, it’s a similar proposition. It’s more than a one-time decision. It also involves a continuing commitment.
I’m concerned that some people think once they’ve knelt at an altar, said a certain prayer, and been baptized that their spiritual journey is complete. In reality it’s just the beginning.
The pathway we walk in following Jesus isn’t always the easiest. As a matter of fact, it rarely is. We will be called upon many times along the way to reaffirm that initial offering of ourselves to the Lord.
In Luke 14:23-33, Jesus encouraged all aspiring disciples of His to count the cost before taking the plunge. He compared it to a man making sure he has enough money to complete the construction of a tower before he starts building it — or like a king who makes sure he possesses the resources to win the war before he goes out to do battle.
Likewise, we should make sure we’re committed fully and for the long-haul when we initially give ourselves to the Lord.
Jesus indicated that there will be times when it will mean putting Him ahead of those who are nearest and dearest to us. He stated that it would involve bearing a cross and being willing to suffer hardship for His sake.
He suggested that such a commitment would mean being willing to forsake anything that threatened to come between us and our Savior.
We should know that following Jesus will sometimes be costly. It will mean having to deny ourselves and sacrifice some things.
However, the positive side of it all is the fact that whatever we may have to give up, it will be worth it. Having a right relationship with the Lord and receiving the gift of eternal life is the “pearl of great price,” which is worth selling everything we own in order to possess.
So let’s count the cost and be prepared for whatever may come our way as followers of Jesus. Let’s make sure our commitment to Him isn’t simply a past event, but a daily, ongoing journey.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.