Counting the Cost

Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, If any one comes to me and does not hate their own father and mother and husband and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even their own life, they cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear their 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 you have enough to complete it? Otherwise, when you have laid a foundation, and are not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock you, saying, 'This one began to build, and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet those who come against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that you have cannot be my disciple.—Luke 14:25-33

This very familiar scripture is about the cost of discipleship, the true meaning of following Jesus. Most of us grew up in churches in which texts like this were never preached about. But during the birth process of Sojourners community, it became an important message for us.

At the evangelical seminary where the community began, it was one of the first ideas that we took hold of, and it sparked a renewal among us. People began to refer to what we were doing as "radical discipleship"; the movement that began to grow among younger evangelicals in the early 1970s was first called the "radical discipleship movement." Dietrich Bonhoeffer's classic book The Cost of Discipleship became an early text for us and Bonhoeffer an early teacher.

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