Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish it”…In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. –Luke 14:28-30, 33
Some years ago, I went through training with an excellent instructor in the field of health and fitness. My trainer was well educated, highly trained, full of experience, held extremely high expectations, and was brutally honest in her feedback and critique. She readily admitted that her forthrightness could be somewhat shocking to those expecting to be coddled, but her goal was not to make her students feel warm and fuzzy. Her goal was to produce the very best instructors in her given field. In fact, she said that her ultimate goal was to turn out instructors who were better than she. With expectations like this, it was no surprise that after the first week of training the number of students was noticeably lower. The cost of completion was just too high.
Jesus was also never known to beat around the bush. In the passage above, Jesus underscored the significance of the decision to follow Him. He was not pleading with people to follow Him, nor trying to coax them away from some other leader. If anything, He made clear the cost of following Him and in a very real sense, gave people a way out if they thought the cost was too high. There was no pressure to become disciples, no obligation to keep following, and in this passage, no invitation to begin a new journey.
Instead we find a very straightforward conversation about the commitment required to follow; Jesus requires people to follow Him with their entire life for their entire lives. Wow! That’s huge. From what we read later on in Scripture, this theme of completion continued. Philippians 1:6 reads, “…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
We are all a work in progress, called by an invitation from Jesus Himself. Each of us is in different stages of development and on different places on the journey. Called to consider the cost and called to complete the goal. And if completion is the goal, quitting is not an option.
As a follower of Christ, hang on to the promise of Philippians 1:6. God, not your own power, will carry you on to completion.
1 Corinthians 9:24