I spent hours looking at a computer screen. Going back and forth from tide charts, to weather, to Google Earth, and back to tide charts. I searched and searched for anything to give me an edge. An oyster bar I hadn’t noticed, a new grass flat, what time the tide was rolling in, what cycle of the moon it was. My eyes hurt so much, and the bloodshot look is not my best. However, I was determined to make sure this was a great fishing trip.
Like most serious fishermen, I knew the hardest part of the fishing trip begins at home, long before you hook the boat up. You spend time crafting a fishing trip. I mean, money doesn’t grow on trees, and if I wanted to maximize the little time I had this is how to do it. So as my family slept, I kept planning. I mapped out our route, I knew where we would stop and fish, like I new the back of my hand.
The same can be said of life. I have often heard the saying, “people to plan to fail, they fail to plan”.
The Bible would remind us of this truth as well. Jesus asks in Luke 14, “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.”
In this passage, Jesus is speaking about the cost of discipleship. This passage pushes up against all the western church holds dear. Jesus is saying, there is a heavy cost associated with following me. If you follow me, you have to die to you. You have to lay down all your desires, you have to pick me before you, and this grinds against the idols of my heart that say, “I just want to add Jesus to what I do already”.
Some of us walk into discipleship with a very lazy mentality. We “accept Jesus in our heart” (not a biblical idea), and then we spend the rest of our lives “just trying to be a good person”. What kind of plan is that? That may make for a great emotional experience, but what power is there in this mentality?
The approach we should be taking, as the church, is the same approach we take to everything else we do. We should plan. We should spend time in God’s Word. We should talk with others who know more, the same way I would talk to people at the bait shop about what is biting, where it is biting, what is it biting on, and so on. We should know the cost, long before we sign up to pay the price.
This is why we have so many in the “church” who later walk away from it. Who renounce what they believe in, what they hold to. Because they didn’t know upfront what the cost of following Jesus really is, “death of self”. See, no where in scripture does it say Jesus came to make you better. That Jesus laid down His life, hung on a cross, was buried in a tomb, and rose again to make you a better person. No, the opposite is true.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we see a different picture, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Jesus didn’t do all this to make you better, He did all this to make you new! This is the good news of the gospel!! This is what we should be excited for! We are not better versions of depraved sinners, we are new versions of sanctified people! We are given a new heart, we are made to see things differently than we ever have (Ezekiel 36).
What we need to be doing in the mean time is planning. Now that we have been made new, what should our lives look like? What does it really mean, the “old has passed away the new has come”? What does it mean to go to war with the idols of my heart? What does it really mean to die to myself?
The power of salvation is this, "I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).
If we are not planning on living a sacrificial life, then we are not following Jesus. If we are not planning on our lives looking different, then we are not following Jesus. If we are not planning on living a life on mission, then we are not following Jesus. Make no mistake, I am not talking about being perfect, as none of us are. What this means is if I didn’t come to Jesus to lay down everything I am, then I did not come to Jesus.
If we want to see the power of the gospel set captives free, open blind eyes, open deaf ears, bring what is dead back to life, we have to do better in planning what it means to follow Jesus! Stop giving those around you a false hope, and start showing them following Jesus means dying to themselves. It means being made new, it means living as Jesus lived. Loving those who persecute you, feeding those who would kill you.
You want to be a light in a dark world, plan to live like Jesus.