"So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." (ASV)
What would you be willing to part with for Christ's sake? What if you found that some of your favorite possessions were leading you to sin and you needed to get them out of your life? What if your landlord decided he doesn't like Christians and kicked you out? What if your parents said they would disown you if you don't turn away from God? What if someone decided to kill you if you wouldn't renounce Him?
Some of these situations may seem far-fetched, but they have happened many times and will probably continue to happen in this fallen world until Christ's return. God knows that the road to follow Him is a difficult one. That is why He gave us the passages found in Luke 14:26-33. He wants us to be prepared.
Christ asks a lot of us. In fact, He asks that we give Him all that we have. Not only possessions, but relationships and our own lives as well. Of course, He has given a lot for us, so He is well within His rights to ask this. And we don't need to tremble as we place our lives in His hands because He values us more than we could possibly fathom.
We need to realize though, that following Christ's lead will not always be rainbows and sunshine. There are bound to be a lot of dark and scary moments. Other people will not always accept our faith. Many will lash out at us, simply because we believe. In some areas of the world, even today, Christians live in fear for their lives. They are harassed by the government, their neighbors, and even their own families.
Paul knew a thing or two about being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel. He was well acquainted with the first recorded martyr. He may have even been there when Stephen was stoned. Then, when he turned to Christ, the peril became his own. He was kicked out of towns, arrested, abused, and eventually killed for spreading the truth. Yet he found strength through it all. In Philippians 3:8 he wrote "Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ." (ASV)
This is the attitude we Christians should seek to emulate. Paul knew that he had gained the most precious and important thing on earth -- a relationship with the risen Christ. He knew that everything he had and everything he was could not measure up to the bounty that awaited him, so he feared to lose nothing.
Most of us today live our lives in relative peace. We may get teased in school or shunned by people that don't understand, but really there is little danger associated with faith for many of us. Because of that I think we often overlook the costs of being a Christian. Still, as Christ reminds us in the above passage from Luke, we need to be ready to turn over everything and everyone we hold dear, if He asks it of us. We need to remember that He has our best interests at heart and that He sees things in the long view, while we often only see what is happening in any particular moment.
So what would you be willing to give up to be a follower of Jesus?