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That Was Smart

By Pastor Phillip Howle
 web posted September 18, 2013

RELIGION – Have you ever forgotten something important? We all have at times. I have forgotten my wonderful mother’s birthday, she reminds me yearly of my failure. I have forgotten milk from the store, where I put my keys, and a whole host of other things. You see the consequences of the forgetfulness will be in proportion to the importance of the forgotten matter.  I came across some extreme and very costly forgetfulness this week.

I read how Spanish architects who were building a 700-foot skyscraper on Spain’s Mediterranean coast discovered a bit of a design flaw: The 47-floor building’s elevator only goes to the 20th floor. This is pretty bad, but to make matters worse, architects for the InTempo building didn’t realize their mistake until it was only two months away from completion. According to Spain’s El Pais newspaper, the Benidorm structure—once planned to be Europe’s tallest residential building—now does not have room for an elevator to service floors 20 through 47. The architects have resigned and project leaders are scrambling for an elevator fix.

Now before I call these guys dummies, I admit I cannot fathom all that goes into building one of the tallest residential structures in the world. I am a simple man, Lincoln Logs and Lego blocks can bewilder me. But I would think that an elevator in a 47-floor building would be high on my list of things not to get wrong. Lugging tomato sauce and pasta up 27 flights of stairs would be tough even for Mario and Luigi. There forgetfulness and oversight will have consequences.

Jesus spoke of a similar matter as well in one his strongest statements on what it means to follow Him. Luke 14:25-35  Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them,  (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.  (27)  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.  (28)  For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?  (29)  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,  (30)  saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish.  (31)  Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?  (32)  And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.  (33)  So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.  (34)  Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  (35)  It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Now this is a message we don’t hear much. We invite all to come to Jesus as their savior and friend. This is something Jesus desires. We teach come to Jesus as you are, and this is correct. But Jesus will not leave you as you are. Jesus says He desires to be first in your life, ahead of family and ahead of your wants and desires.

But let’s be honest, is Jesus for real here? Is He not just being unreasonable? Understand that the grace of God is not cheap grace. It requires a response. Jesus is showing here that “one can only receive the grace of God with open hands, and to open those hands one must let go of all that would frustrate the reception of that grace.” (Robert H. Stein, An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus, 112).

This is what Jesus means when He uses His famous language of bearing a cross daily. We proverbially use this in wrong fashion to mean passively enduring trials of life. But carrying a cross means making an active choice to walk down death row to your place of execution. This means no turning back, and it is a total, complete commitment, with your life. You life no longer belongs to you anymore. This is total commitment; Jesus gave Himself for us totally, and expects us to give ourselves to Him totally.

So there is a cost to following Jesus, but I would also add there is a greater cost in not following Him.  Many would find greater joy and satisfaction in life by letting go of what holds them back and following Jesus. Many need to see that they have never followed Jesus, because their life has never changed. Many need to look at their trajectory of their life lived in rebellion to Christ and see it leads to hell. You will all make a choice, count the cost and choose for Jesus.

Pastor Howle

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