One of my favourite pastimes is walking. I’m a member of the National Trust and on days off and during holidays I always try and go to visit some of its properties – places like Brimham Rocks, or Fountains Abbey. These places are dog friendly too, and my dog really loves going for days out to these places.
Many years ago I decided to do a long distance walk to raise money for a cancer research charity – and I ended up walking a grand total of 275 miles. Even though I was quite fit at the time, I knew that walking long distances every day for 3 weeks wasn’t something that I could just turn up and do. I had to make sure I had the right equipment – a compass, water bottle, snacks, maps, rucksack, good walking boots and waterproofs. I also had to make sure I trained. So there was a lot of training, and preparation that I needed to do before I could even start the walk.
There are many times in life when we need to train or prepare for something. It might be practicing for a test at school, working extra hard if we are learning to play a musical instrument and want to get the next grade, or making sure we have everything packed and ready and getting up early if we’re about to go away on holiday – there are many examples.
At the end of the day we know that putting in that extra time and effort will get us closer to the goal of being the best that we can be, or being able to relax on holiday knowing that everything is in order and we have everything we need to enjoy the holiday. All of these things don’t necessarily come easy; there is a cost involved, not necessarily costing money, but certainly time, effort and dedication – but the reward is definitely worth it!
In our Bible reading today, Jesus talks about the cost and commitment necessary to be a Christian. He is talking to large crowds of people who are traveling with him. He said, “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it?” (14:28). He goes on to say, “Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other?” (14:31)
Jesus makes it very clear that there is a cost to being a Christian. It is not easy. A commitment must be made to put Jesus first – in every part of our lives. That decision requires that we try to make good choices every day to help us reach that goal. We may have to give up things we would like to do or have at the moment to have something better in the future. That is the cost. But, if we do that, Christ promises to be with us to help us — always.
I’ve been a Christian for 31 years; I wouldn’t be stood here now if I didn’t think for one moment that the cost was worth it. I am so glad that Jesus is my friend and he loves being friends with us! Amen