Are we willing to pay the price?
While our Redeemer does require a definite response to his call to follow and serve him, he does not seek a rushed response. Jesus does not invite us to an easy journey. He invites us to take up the cross and follow him. (Luke 14: 28 – 33) This is why we have to calculate the cost of serving him! We cannot recklessly resolve to follow Christ, before we realize the seriousness of the matter.
To drive this point home, Jesus uses twin parables.
One is of a man who builds a watchtower over his land. To engage in such a task was an expensive undertaking. The wise builder would not impulsively start to build without considering how much money it would take to complete the job, and end up with a half built tower.
Impulsive decisions do not normally end in success. What good is a half-built watchtower? Can it protect anyone? Does it even begin to accomplish the purpose for which it was designed? No — such a disaster would bring only ridicule, scorn, and embarrassment. Rather than a mighty tower of strength, the builder would be saddled with a monument to his own foolishness.
In the second parable Jesus tells of a king preparing to embark on a war campaign against another king. But the king has only half the troops of the enemy. If the king has any competence at all, he would not rush into battle despite the odds. To do so would be utterly foolish. The wise king who has planned appropriately, sends out a delegation, says Jesus, "while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace" (32).
These two parables are parallel, but they approach the issue of the thoughtfulness required for discipleship from two perspectives.
In the first parable, Jesus calls us to consider whether we can afford to follow him. Because a testimony abandoned because of failure to assess the cost, is tragic!
In the second parable, he calls us to consider whether we can afford not to follow him! A true follower, after consideration, takes the wise approach of pursuing peace with God, on his gracious terms. A follower of Jesus realizes that nothing less than unconditional surrender is acceptable.
The Word challenges us with two vital questions:
Can you afford to follow Jesus? and
Can you afford not to follow him?