Tonight's reading at Grace DC was from Luke 14:25-33.
There is a difference in believing in Jesus and following Jesus. Our faith should be more like oxygen (something we crave and need to survive every moment) instead of adrenaline (a mechanism that kicks in when life is going wrong).
So how do you view Christianity? Too many rules? A burden? Jesus promised Christians that they would have troubles, but he also assured them that his "yoke was easy and his burden was light." So how can this be?
Jesus was a realist with his followers--this is because he loves them (us) and cannot lie. He tells his disciples on the front end that life believing in him will come with struggles and also states that unless a person is willing to give everything up, they cannot follow him. That certainly sounds extreme and it is easy to feel put in hard place thinking: do I choose Jesus or do I choose death and judgement? God puts us in the middle of this hard decision for a reason--he knows that if we choose him there will be immense joy on the other side of the decision. In terms of giving up everything, it is a good time to ask oneself: "what is captivating me? Is it Jesus?" If it is not Jesus, the PERSON of Christ, the relationship you have with him--then you will not make it.
So what are the costs? Well, there is a relational cost--those around us will be affected by our decision to follow Christ. This bring us to the point that we must love Jesus more than we even love our family. Jesus puts this stipulation on us not just to burden us, but to also protect our family. If we love and prize family over him and idolize our loves ones, we will smother them. Our first love must always be Jesus--then we can properly love others. There is a personal cost. Jesus will get into our identities and challenge the way we view ourselves to be sufficient without him. For example, I consider myself to be very organized and therefore many things do work out well for me because of forward planning. One way I can tell I am getting to "self-sufficient" is when my plans fall through and I am left with nothing--except to rely on the Lord. These times are often the sweetest in the end and I usually learn so much more than I would have if my "perfect" plan worked out.
Popular culture tells us that we should find a religion that works for us. Well, if you subscribe to that mindset, Christianity is the wrong religion for you. If you commit to follow Jesus, every area of your life will be invaded and turned upside--in the most beautiful, hard, unexpected, loving and mind blowing way you could never imagine. It will be difficult at times. It will be joyful at times. It will always be fulfilling.
Be Still My Soul.