The cost of following Jesus.

Homily 267 – 1st Sunday after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
June 11, 2017

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

Our Lord tells us that in order to be His disciple – his follower – we have to follow him above everything. Even our family. Even ourselves.

Following Christ comes with a cost.

In the Gospel of St. Luke, our Lord gives two parables that illustrate this concept.

He tells of one who desires to build a tower – a castle, or a home perhaps. But if you don’t have enough money – if the cost is too great – the tower – the home – remains unfinished, a testament and witness to our grand ambition and short-sighted planning.

He speaks of a king who goes to war with another king, and had to consider his strength versus his opponent’s strength. And if his resources are insufficient, he risks losing everything.

If we desire to follow Christ, we must count the cost.

That isn’t just to be a saint, by the way. Just a disciple. Just a follower.

One of those that Christ commands to take up our Cross. That means we have to choose.

Our cross is not something that we are given.

Often we consider an illness, a job loss, a family struggle – and inevitably we call it “our cross to bear.”

But that isn’t the cross we bear at all. The cross we bear is one we pick up, not one that is given to us.

Just like our Lord’s cross. He ascended it – he climbed it. He picked it up. In obedience to His Father.

We ascend our own cross – we pick it up – in obedience to Him.

So what costs will we encounter?

First, nothing is ours.

I had a friend who had several dozen relics of saints. He was always careful to say they weren’t his, though. They belonged to God. He was their custodian, their steward.

Everything is that way. We don’t own it. We don’t possess it. We have custody of it. It is owned and possessed by God.

And God has chosen to give it to the ones who need it. The poor, the homeless, the sick.

Our job, as a steward, a custodian, of God’s resources is to direct them to the place and the people where they are needed.

Jesus Himself had nothing. Literally nothing. No jet. No lake house. No fleet of cars. Not even a spare set of clothes.

He had – by the standards of society – nothing. Yet, He has everything.

Cost isn’t just those things we give up. It is also the priority of what we pursue.

If we pursue success, we will fail. We may have plenty – big house, fine food, nice cars. But what will we have when it matters?

What will we have when we die? Like the man with the barns, who worked so hard, and the day he retired, so to speak, he died.

His wealth was enjoyed by others. Which isn’t wealth at all, if we think about it.

Wealth – real, tangible wealth – is found in relationships. It has very little to do with how much, or how little, we have.

If we have much, our wealth is how we share with others, how we value our friends and family – our relationships.

If we have little, then our wealth is how we share with others, how we value our friends and family – our relationships.

We see it everywhere. The poor are content – happy, even – and the rich are miserable. They are blinded as they try to hold tightly to what they have, even though they don’t enjoy having it.

They enjoy only that you and I don’t have it. Which is, I have to say, just silly.

So, like the saints of old, count the cost of discipleship. Invest in relationships – with no thought of what they can do for you.

Because what relationships give us, money and wealth and power cannot buy. They give us love.

Invest in love. The stuff in our lives can bring us moments of pleasure, but never a lifetime of joy.

Relationships – caring for one another, loving one another, sharing our lives with one another – brings joy. True joy.

Eternal joy.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.