David Swan, NS
From "Assembly Focus"
We are often warned against trafficking in "unfelt truth" and also in unapplied truth. By this it is meant that we should hesitate to speak publicly or to write about the Word of God that we havent first of all, in a measure at least, entered into in personal experience. The danger is that what is given will lack that "something" that is vibrant and living, affecting the heart and feet. This being said, I hesitate to speak on the passage that I have been looking at and which has affected me. It is challenging and solemn and yet so important in our lives in view of the Judgment Seat of Christ!
In Luke 14, verses 25 to 35 we read an account of the Lord and the multitude that followed Him. It is interesting and thrilling to think that it speaks of great multitudes. How hungry they were to hear him and to experience reality, in contrast to the religious form that they were so used to seeing in the scribes and Pharisees. In the multitudes there was no doubt a great variety of attitudes to be revealed. Of course only He could properly see this, as everyone would be inclined to think that they were all following Him together and therefore all had the same measure of interest and devotion. They were all outwardly following Him, but were they really all following Him? In keeping with His divine knowledge of the hearts of all men and in keeping with His kind ability to expose reality, we have to picture Him turning and speaking to them (v. 25). He is going to speak about TRUE DISCIPLESHIP! Notice, while He turns to the multitudes, He speaks to "individuals" when He says, "if any man." We learn that true discipleship is a personal matter and must be considered very seriously, as His examples convey to us. In short, He is going to show us that there is a difference between "wanting" to be a disciple and "willing" to be a disciple.
Three times over, in verses 26, 27, and 33 he uses the expression "cannot be my disciple." We might say that in verse 26, personal relationships can hinder true discipleship; in verse 27 personal ambitions can be a hindrance and in verse 33 personal resources could interfere. Our love for earthly relationships must take second place, but according to other portions of Scripture, never in a "hateful" manner. For example we read, "honour thy father and mother;" "husbands love your wives;" etc. So we learn that while we are to have a natural love for our own and others, the will of God may call us to a pathway that would override the desires and wishes of those we love naturally. His will in this case reveals where our devotion really is centered. In this we learn that love for Him is the basic ingredient in true discipleship. How this challenges our hearts!
We are grieved at our lack of sacrificial love for Him and often wonder how He could love us so! And yet this doesnt mean that we cannot purpose to begin anew to embark upon a pathway of appreciation of His love and in turn seek to cultivate a deeper love for Him. This would lead us to enjoy more intimate communion with himself and a greater expression of true discipleship. Immediately we can expect the old three enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, to begin to interfere, perhaps in ways that we would not expect. God has graciously given us the indwelling Spirit and the inspired Word to help us overcome in our endeavour to draw closer in our affections to the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. We can little doubt the certainty of His desire that we should be closer to Him in our daily walk. John 15:4 reads, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." Fruit- bearing here is Christ-likeness.
Verse 27 introduces the idea of a man bearing His cross and following Him. The picture of the tower follows. This is seen in the connecting word "for" at the beginning of verse 28. "Bearing His cross" might be considered the negative side of the issue because it deals with self and is linked with death. Paul said "I am crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20). But then he goes on to say, "nevertheless I live," and this could be looked at as the positive side of discipleship when the Lord said, "come after me." "Which of you intending to build a tower" is interesting. The word "intending" has the idea of desire plus the will. This takes us back to an earlier thought that when it comes to true discipleship we can desire to be a disciple and yet not be willing. Sitting down first to count the cost (vs. 28), shows us there is a deliberate consideration of the challenge. Regarding the cost, we must look at it in two ways: (1) Am I prepared for the changes that His will may demand from time to time? (2) Am I prepared for the results of not following Him? "Whether he have sufficient to finish" brings before us the committal to follow through, or is this just a temporary desire in the energy of the flesh?
The bowed will establishes a course in a definite direction. Stopping short results in disapproval before God and mockery before men! This area of deep soul consideration of the challenge, seems to me to be the foundation area of the tower of communion that he has embarked upon. The materials with which he is going to build would be gathered by daily reading of the Scriptures, and of course this takes time. The idea of a tower tells us that a person is going to be confined to a specific designated area in which he is going to exercise a good deal of patience and labor. (The tower of communion will affect the use of our time as being profitable or non profitable) If we are to embark upon this endeavour, great care must be taken to protect the project because of the danger of distraction and defeat. This TOWER then becomes a place of separation and of time alone with Himself, and will undoubtedly result in a greater vision for those about us in a world where we are privileged to be the Lords disciples.
Now he introduces the idea of a warfare. One king is aware of the challenge of another king coming against him and is seriously considering a confrontation. He considers his resources and the resources of the oncoming king and must come to a definite conclusion in his own mind as to the outcome. Upon consulting he realizes he may have to send an ambassador to arrange conditions of peace before he suffers either great loss or total defeat. We naturally want to be the absolute ruler of our own little kingdom. Or in other words, our own lives. There is another King who has a purchased right to rule. He is a kind and gentle king who does nothing but good to his subjects and yet has the ability and will to subdue every authority which may rise against him. I think we can see the picture quite clearly as to who the first king is and who the second king is. The flesh desires to control our lives, bringing us into conformity with nothing more than we have known by nature.. .self-gratification, selfish ambitions, self-importance, "SELF" on the throne!
The king who approaches from a distance is none other than the one who loved us and gave himself for us. He desires to rule and reign in our lives, bringing nothing but manifold spiritual blessings with Him. Who could resist such a king with such high ambitions for us? The solemn reality is that WE CAN! It is by consulting with ourselves in the presence of God that we arrive at the conclusion that it is only folly to resist the loving interest of the King who desires our highest blessing and good. The sooner we come to Him with conditions of peace, the better it is for us. In ourselves we have no resources to bring pleasure to the rightful king. He gives us the conditions of peace in Matthew 11:29-30. "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.. .For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." This is the challenge and blessed privilege placed before the individual who desires to be a true disciple of the Master. May we gladly and seriously take the challenge!