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Whether we realize it or not, there’s a price tag to every decision we make (or don’t make) with our lives. We trade something – our resources, time, energy, passion – hoping to get something else in return.

  1. What are the things I’m trading my life for?
  2. What am I hoping to get in return?
  3. What am I actually getting? Is it the thing I thought I was?

Unless we are very clear about the answers to these 3 questions, we walk through life at the whims of other people, cultures, internal desires, anxieties, hopes, or fears. It’s not a great way to live.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

~ Socrates

This is a principle at work throughout our lives. Whether we are followers of Jesus or not.

Luke 14
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them He said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

So, Jesus makes 2 line-in-the-sand declarations and then gives His listeners 2 examples to illustrate.

  1. He talks about a strong, off-putting word… hate.

It seems pretty harsh, even cult-like. And how do we square Jesus’ words here with other words in the scripture about honoring our fathers and mothers? Or the places where husbands are commanded to love their wives? Or where Jesus says that anyone who welcomes a child welcomes Him?

That’s where understanding the cultural context is so important in the Scriptures. What’s really being talked about here is a decisive choice in a direction. It’s not a both-and. It’s an either-or.

But there’s something that happens with this particular “or.” It frames every other relationship and circumstance in our lives differently. It’s like having Jesus as a foundation rather than a decoration.

So, this is Jesus as the foundation for every other relationship – parents, marriage, children.

  1. Carry your cross and follow me.

Think about the word “carry.” It’s something we have to do constantly and actively. Intentionally. When we stop being intentional, whatever you’re carrying drops.

Some of us are under the impression that this was something we did once. So, we go about our lives however we want – without thinking or examining. That’s Jesus as a decoration, not a foundation.

There’s another part of it, too – some Bibles have the phrase “take up” instead of “carry.” In order to take something up, you need to put down something else.

We like to add Jesus to whatever else we already have decided to carry with our lives:

  • Priorities
  • Politics
  • Relationships
  • Religious understanding
  • Money and stuff

We start with whatever else it is and try to add Jesus.

We ask Him to bless our food and give us a hedge of protection and traveling mercies as a cosmic vending machine for what we think we want and need. Instead of starting with Jesus and letting Him be the foundation for all those other things that allow them to have their proper place and perspective, we try the reverse.

Confusing this leads us into all sorts of trouble – debt, consumption, overreach, religion that oppresses rather than Jesus who liberates.

Whenever we follow Jesus, we find ourselves continually letting go of other things. And there will always be some of them we’ll want to try to hold onto.

And so, consider the cost. There’s a decisive choice. But just like all the other prices we pay when we choose one thing, we implicitly decide not to choose other things.

There’s a postscript to this that seems like a swerve at the end, but it gives us a better understanding of why this matters.

Luke 14
34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Who is the salt here? Us. Jesus uses salt as a metaphor a few times in His teachings. In the ancient world, as it still does now, salt flavors, preserves, cleanses, and promotes healing.

When Jesus is our foundation, when we build our lives here, our lives are flavor, preserving, holding together, bringing healing.

If you wonder what kind of life you’re living, look behind you. Look in your wake and ask yourself:

  • What kind of trail are you leaving?
  • Are places and people and situations better than where you found them?
  • Are you someone’s greatest thanksgiving or greatest regret?

Be honest.

Remember you’re trading something for something else when you pick up your cross and follow Jesus in a new direction.

What are you trading your life for? What are you actually getting? Where might Jesus be calling you to lay that down, pick up His way, and follow Him?

A way of thinking, a relationship, something you’ve been clinging to for security, for meaning. Maybe for the first time, maybe yet again?

When you count the cost and Choose Christ, you are building your life there on a foundation that won’t be shaken. Christ Alone, Cornerstone.

Unlike everything else in our lives, which seems uncertain, this foundation lasts. When you build on a solid foundation, there’s peace, security, and joy. Whatever the circumstances in life bring you.

So, consider the cost, pick up your cross, and follow Jesus. That’s the story we find ourselves in.

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