Counting the Cost

Theme: The cost of discipleship. Proper 18 (23) Year C

Object: A piece of sheet music. (Or you could have your pianist play a short piece on the piano and then ask, "How many of you would like to be able to play the piano like that?")

Scripture: "And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 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.'" Luke 14: 27-30 (NIV)

How many of you would like to play the piano? Wait! Not so fast! Before you raise your hand and say "yes" to that question, let's see what it would cost to be able to play the piano and see if you are willing to pay the price.

First of all, you would have to buy a piano. It would be rather silly to say that you wanted to play the piano if you weren't willing to go out and buy a piano, wouldn't it? So the first you would need to do is look for a piano. I found a used piano in the classified section of the newspaper for $700. The ad said it needed some repairs, so it probably isn't a very good one, but it's a start. Hmm....$700, do you still want to play the piano?

Next you need to find a teacher. After all, you can't teach yourself. Not if you really want to play well. I looked in the newspaper again to find a piano teacher. I found one for $25 a week. Let's see, that's $100 a month, do you still want to play the piano?

What else do we need? Oh yes, we will need some music! I went to the music store and found out that most of the music books cost $10-$15 each. If you want to buy a single copy of sheet music, they usually cost around $5.00 each. Do you still want to play the piano?

Now that you have a piano, a teacher, and some music you must be willing to practice. Most piano teachers require their students to practice at least one hour every day. That means that there will be times when other children will be out playing while you must stay in and practice. Hey boys, one thing I forgot to mention, when other boys see you carrying your piano books, they may make fun of you. They might even call you a "sissy." Do you still want to play the piano? If you want to play the piano, you have to count the cost and make sure you are willing to pay the price!

Did you know that Jesus said that same thing to some people who said they wanted to be his disciples? Jesus told them that if they wanted to follow him, they had to count the cost. He said they had to be willing to take up their cross daily and follow him. To follow him, they might have to be willing to give up their family and friends. Jesus also said that people might make fun of them and call them names and that some people might even want to hurt them. They had to count the cost and make sure they were willing to pay the price.

A lot of people today say that they want to follow Jesus. They join the church and for a while you will see them every week, but when they find out how much it is going to cost, they fall away. Being a true follower of Jesus is not always easy, but it is always worth it, if you are willing to pay the price.

Dear Jesus, it is easy to say that we want to follow you, but it isn't always easy to do. Help us to follow you, whatever the cost. Amen.

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