I asked Jesus to come into my heart in kindergarten at a Christian school. Did that mean I was saved? It’s hard to remember much from that long ago. I remember I liked the little girl who always stood in front of me in line. Math facts were a chore for me to memorize, and so my mother used M&Ms as a reward to help me learn. We played freeze tag and cops & robbers almost every day at recess. Isn’t it funny how some things get ingrained in our long-term memory? One thing I don’t remember is whether I understood what it truly meant to follow Christ. I remember being afraid of hell though, and I did not want to end up there.

Ask Jesus into your heart. That’s all you have to do. The problem is that simply repeating a few words doesn’t save anyone. Lip service doesn’t cost anything, and sure as hell doesn’t keep anyone from going there. I’m not saying that salvation comes with conditions. We don’t have to earn it or do more good than bad to receive it. God’s love is unconditional. “Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly!” (Romans 5:8, TPT).

The understanding that saving grace is a free gift from God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is only the beginning of what it means to be a Christian. I think that many people do not count the cost of truly following Jesus, resulting in a watered down faith. You can count me as one of them. I was pretty waterlogged for a long time.

Count The Cost

Jesus isn’t looking for rule followers to tout their own righteousness. He didn’t die for people to simply claim His Name and go on with their lives like nothing changed. If checking-in at church once a week (or less) was what He wanted, then what’s the deal with Him overturning tables and chasing people out with a whip?

Jesus summoned the crowd, along with his disciples, and had them gather around. And he said to them: “If you truly want to follow me, you should at once completely disown your own life. And you must be willing to share my cross and experience it as your own, as you continually surrender to my ways. For if you let your life go for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, you will continually experience true life. But if you choose to keep your life for yourself, you will forfeit what you try to keep. For what use is it to gain all the wealth and power of this world, with everything it could offer you, at the cost of your own life? And what could be more valuable to you than your own soul?

Mark 8:34-37 (TPT)

The price of salvation was paid once and for all on the cross. Accepting that gift of grace involves repenting, or turning away from, our sin and following Christ as His disciple. The cost of discipleship is life. Jesus gave His life for our salvation. We are called to give up our lives for Him.

To follow Christ means to obey His commands, but there is more to being a disciple than just following His instruction. The hardest pill to swallow when counting the cost of discipleship is that opposition is inevitable. Jesus promised persecution to His followers.

Expect to be hated by all because of my name, but be faithful to the end and you will experience life and deliverance.

Matthew 10:22 (TPT)

Our Job Starts With Love

Jesus commands His followers to love. Everything that Jesus commands His followers to do can be traced back to love. We should proclaim The Gospel because love desires that all people experience salvation by His grace. Healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out demons (Matthew 10:8) are all actions born out of love for others.

“So this is my command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you. For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends.”

John 15:12-13 (TPT)