And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. “But don’t begin until you count the cost. Luke 14:27-28a (NLT)
There is an excellent reason Jesus cautioned his followers to stop and think before committing to follow him; becoming a true, all-in, not-looking-back disciple will be the most costly decision of your life.
Martin of Tours understood that. Born to pagan parents, Martin was an officer in the king’s army during the 4th Century. He considered becoming a Christian disciple. What finally convinced Martin to make the commitment to Christ was what is pictured above.
Martin met a beggar who had no clothes; he cut his own tunic in half and gave it to the man. Later that night Martin dreamed Christ visited him – wearing only that half-tunic. The king’s soldier became Christ’s soldier that night.
Now that sounds like a perfect ending to a sermon illustration….but there’s more.
Martin left the army and became a priest; he was eventually elected as a bishop who stood plainly and firmly on a single platform: following Christ at all costs. In Martin’s life and ministry he stood calmly between the weak and powerful as a voice for mercy and justice (often with his own life at stake).
Martin of Tours lived a hard life, dangerous beyond that which most American Christians experience or even imagine. As a former military officer he knew what it was to live a life of service, plan strategically and commit to the campaign with his life if necessary.
This is what Jesus calls us to do also.
It’s a bit frightening to focus on what might happen when you put it all on the line for Jesus.
After all, counting the cost means facing the loss.
But this is where the math really does add up.
What would you lose if you stood firmly for following Christ today? And does every bit of what you stand to lose compare at all with what you will gain with Christ’s approval?
For the Christian who is truly committed to following Jesus Christ, there is no such thing as “loss” – it’s all gain. Missionary Jim Elliot, who was martyred in his work once said:
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
For You, Today…
Like Martin of Tours you might meet someone today who is in need of half of what you have.
He could be Jesus, so count the cost before you leave the house.