I was at Downtown Disney last night hanging out with some friends from my Bible Study group, and we filed into one of the Disneyland Resort hotels called the Grand Californian Hotel. We found a spot to sit right next to a fireplace in the Grand Californian Hotel. As others in the group were talking around me, I could not help, but stare intently at the fire burning passionately in the fireplace. This fire enraptured a simple prayer within my heart at the moment. Lord, set my heart on fire. Set it ablaze in order to further Your kingdom and Your glory. That others may see You in me and give You all the praise. Amen. How does God set our heart on fire? Let's dive into the passage.
Luke 14:28-33 says, "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."
Now, in this passage, Jesus sets before us two distinct pictures of potential disciples needing to "count the costs" of following Him, before wholeheartedly setting out on a tribulation filled journey where the fierce, fiery wrath of the evil one will come knocking on their door nearly every second. These illustrations are meant to instill in us a burning question. Do you want to live a life ablaze, on fire for our Lord Jesus Christ? Do you? Because, if you do want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, you will be persecuted, like no other, on every side (2 Tim. 3:12). We are not exempt from persecution on this earth when we believe in faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved from an eternity in hell, but persecution comes along with the package of being a follower of Christ. Why? John 15:18-19 properly leads us to the answer, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."
The world hates you. Persecution will come, because the world literally hates you. The world cannot even stand us since we believe morality is objective. Morality is based upon the true facts found in Scripture. While, on the other hand, the world believes in moral relativism. Each person can decide what he or she thinks is right for him or her. Yeah folks, if it is ok, in your own personal belief system, to murder the President of the US, go for it. No one is stopping you. You have your own personal right to accomplish that task, because you believe it with all your heart. Nowadays, you hear these stories all the time. My own alien god told me to rape 40 women or else I would go to hell. What so called "alien god" would make you choose to do a heinous action like that? But, sadly, moral relativism is accepted in our culture, and practically everything else this world throws at us. Since this is the reality and we are on the other side of the bench, we will be hated, insulted, slandered, cursed at, screamed at, you name it. Persecution is a reality when you are a Warrior in God's kingdom.
However, you will not be left alone when trouble, trials, and tribulation come upon you like bullets being fired from a machine gun. Jesus says in Matthew 28:20b, "And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age." In Romans 8, Paul tells us that if God is for us, who can be against us. The ultimate reality of following Jesus wholeheartedly is that He is right by your side through the pain, He is with you through the trials, and He will never leave you. Persecution can bring any human being, even the strongest person, into a deep state of depression. Without God striving with us, we would be in a hopeless predicament. But, thankfully, we know of someone, who is able to strive with us through the course of life. Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect was tempted as we are, yet without sin." Jesus Christ knows what it is like to experience the full onslaught of temptation and persecution. Satan was, in every respect, doing everything he possibly could to cause Jesus to stumble multiple times, but Christ overcame the power of the enemy. He overcame the power of persecution despite the world's hatred of Him. He, my friends, is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. Trust in Him wholly and solely believe in Him as your Lord. He will protect you.
If you are a true believer, you have already chosen and purposed in your heart to follow after Him wholeheartedly. I urge you to faithfully continue persevering in the faith and to constantly remember the blood that was poured out on your behalf. Christ's sufferings will strengthen you through your own sufferings. Never forget the Cross of Christ. If you have not trusted Him, you are in the hopeless throng of millions, who probably believe in moral relativism. I urge you to bend the knee before it is too late. Christ came to save you and to give His life for you. Don't wait: today is the day of salvation. Count the costs and find hope in Christ alone. In my next post, we will look at the last condition of true discipleship that Christ lays out for us in the Luke 14 passage and I will finish answering the question of how God sets our heart on fire.