When we see a line of soldiers marching in full dress uniform, it looks impressive. We see their spit shined boots, their wrinkle free uniforms, their medals and ribbons, and they march along with their heads held high. It’s easy for a young person to see that and say “I want to be a soldier!” But, they don’t see the bullets flying past one’s head in battle. They don’t see the dirt and mud of a trench or fox hole. They don’t see fallen soldiers dying as a battle rages around them. They often don’t see the whole picture of what it really costs to be a soldier.
The same is true with many who see some of the people in this world who claim to follow Jesus. They don’t see what it REALLY costs to be a Christian, because the people who claim to follow Jesus don’t live any different than the rest of the world. However, we are ALWAYS at war with the world, the flesh, and the devil. And as a true Christian, we must be willing to pay the price to truly follow Jesus Christ. It is a constant battle, one that we must be willing to fight no matter what.
Jesus own words tell us, “Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.'” (Luke 14:25-34)
Now, anyone can easily be a pretend soldier. We can get a costumed uniform with fake medals and ribbons and look just like a soldier, without having to fight a single real battle. And we can be pretend Christians as well…there are thousands of them! We can go along with all the rituals and traditions of our churches and religious affiliations, and not ever pay a price for doing so and not ever give up our lives. However – just as a pretend soldier has no support from the military, a pretend Christian has no support from Heaven, and doesn’t end up in Heaven when all the battles of this life are finally over!
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'” (Matthew 16:24) To truly follow Jesus Christ – will cost you everything! That’s the cost! Salvation is free, but once we begin to follow Jesus, we must be willing to give up whatever comes between us and obeying His Word. We must be willing to stand for Him and follow Him daily, even if it costs us our life!
That sounds harsh to some, and it is…but rejoice with Jesus words, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)