Why, which of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and reckon the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?– For fear that, if he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish it, every one who sees it should begin to laugh at him, And say ‘Here is a man who began to build and was not able to finish!’ (Luke 14:28-30)
Early Christian churches were, for the most part, “house churches,” which is still the case in countries where Christianity is illegal. When the Roman Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity, churches began to be built in earnest. One of the earliest was in Tyre. Speaking at the dedication of the church, Eusebius of Caesarea noted that the building was built “…solidly of still richer materials in abundance, never for a moment counting the cost.”
Almost 1,700 years have passed, but one thing hasn’t changed: too many projects such as churches, houses, and other buildings are undertaken with little regard for their cost. But the bill comes due eventually and, if we’re paying on credit, sooner than we’d like.
Jesus challenged his disciples to first count the cost, not only of buildings, but the cost of following him. Were they prepared to pay that price? “‘If every one else falls away from you,’ Peter answered, ‘I shall never fall away!’ ‘I tell you,’ replied Jesus, ‘that this very night, before the cock crows, you will disown me three times!’ ‘Even if I must die with you,’ Peter exclaimed, ‘I shall never disown you!’ All the disciples spoke in the same way.” (Matthew 26:33-35) But Peter did deny Jesus; his Lord knew him better than he himself.
And he knows us better too. We say we’re prepared to go where he sends us. But are we? Are we prepared to pay the price by giving of ourselves? Or are we simply willing to stay home and spend money, which has a high price of its own? Ultimately we must ask: what’s really important to us?
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21)