Bible Reading: Luke 14:25-35
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
To be a follower of Jesus Christ will cost you everything you have earned on earth. But as a follower of Jesus…He gives you everything He has inherited in Heaven.
I enjoy sports of all kinds. But one sport that I have played probably less than 20 times is golf. I would like to play more often but it can be a little expensive and it takes a lot of time. On top of that…golf, like most other sports, can require some real precision. That means that you have to practice very regularly if you want to play well. You can’t just run out to the golf course once, or twice, a year and expect to consistently hit good shots. And that can be very frustrating. Especially, if you tend to be just a little competitive, like me (okay, so I’m more than just a “little” competitive). Though I haven’t played much, I have played in several different places, such as Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, and get this, Alaska. Yep. I played golf in Alaska with Jeremy and his father-in-law, Jim. It was when I played there that I had one of my most memorable golf experiences. I was just about to tee-off when Jeremy said, “Dad.” I stopped in mid-swing and said, “Don’t do that! You’re not supposed to do anything to interfere when someone is about to swing.” He smiled and said, “I know, but I just didn’t want you to hit the moose.” He pointed in front of me and sure enough, bigger than life…was a moose…casually walking across the fairway. No, you don’t want to make the moose mad. It could ruin your game. One time, when Jeremy was playing in Alaska, he had to slow down in his golf cart so that he would not run into a black bear that was walking on the cart path. Another time, he played golf on a frozen river. They cut the holes into the ice for the cups. He said that when you drove the ball it would go for a mile…bouncing and bouncing and bouncing. That’s Alaska for you. Everything there is just a little bit different.
Each year, during the first full week of April, the first of four major golf championships that are played in the U.S., takes place at the Augusta National Golf Club, in Augusta, Georgia. It is called the Master’s Tournament. It began in 1934. Jack Nicklaus has the most Masters wins, with six between 1963 and 1986. Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have won four each, and five players have won three titles. Each year, the champion is given a green jacket. He is allowed to take the jacket home for one year and then has to return it to the clubhouse where it is kept with the jackets of the other champions in a special cloakroom. The only way that you get to play in the Masters is to be invited.
Like I said before, golf can be an expensive game. Not only do you have to buy your equipment (clubs, balls, club bag, shoes, balls, clothes, gloves, more balls…I keep losing the balls in the water and bushes)…but you also have to pay to play at the golf course. And, at some golf courses, you have to pay to ride in a cart.
Then of course…there are private golf clubs. They can be very, very pricey. In fact, they can be ridiculously expensive. Now, I know that these are the very most, extremely, exceptionally luxurious private golf clubs in the world…but listen to these prices…
- Singapore Island Country Club, Singapore: The club has approximately 18,000 members. The Initiation fee to be a member is $41,700.
- Fancourt, Western Cape, South Africa: You have to be a property owner at the resort to gain membership. Even then, the Initiation fee is $63,000.
- Trump National Golf Club, New Jersey, USA: The Initiation fee is approximately $188,000.
- Bear’s Club, Florida, USA: The Initiation fee is $201,000.
- Liberty National, New Jersey, USA: The golf course has beautiful views of the Statue of Liberty and membership is extremely exclusive. The Initiation fee is $450,000.
Now that is a chuck-a-change! And people are willing to pay it. In fact, they want to pay it…they will gladly pay it…just to be a member. To be a member at any one of those golf clubs is to be a part of one of the most elite clubs in the world. And people are willing to pay, or to do, whatever is necessary to be a member. Think about it…a member of a club where people hit a small round ball (1.68 inches in diameter), with a long, thin stick, in order to knock it into a shallow, circular cup (4¼ inches in diameter) buried in the ground. Of course, I guess that being seen with other millionaires and famous people is important, too. You can only hope.
But golf is not the only organization that has a high cost. In fact, compared to the organization I am going to tell you about…the cost to be a member at any of the expensive clubs that I just showed you…is chump change…it’s almost nothing, at all. I’m going to tell you about the most expensive organization to join that has ever existed. Why is it so expensive? Because in order to join…you have to be willing to die.
There were many people who wanted to be followers of Jesus. Well, at least part-time, or part-way followers. Not the real thing. Just partial followers. They wanted to follow Him as long as there were benefits, and as long as it was popular, and as long as it was easy. But Jesus told them, “No, you cannot follow me that way.” He clearly identified the cost to be a member of His organization, to be one of His followers. You had to be willing to give up everything you valued in life (people and possessions)…and you had to be willing to die to your own desires. That’s a pretty high price to pay. And Jesus knew it. So, He told the people that they had better give it careful consideration. Count the cost, ahead of time. He didn’t want anyone to start following Him and then later say, “Hey, I didn’t know it was going to cost me that much! I’m not prepared to pay this price.” And then, walk away. Not only would it make them look bad…but, it would make Him look bad, as well.
Why would Jesus put such a high price tag on following Him? Well, why does it cost so much to be a part of one of those golf clubs? Because of the benefits and privileges that you receive by being a member. And it’s just the same way when you accept Jesus and become one of His followers. The price is…well, it’s everything that you are and everything that you have. But, the benefits and privileges are out of this world…literally. As a member of God’s family, you receive…
- the forgiveness of your sins
- the renewal of a relationship with God
- the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (His gifts and fruit)
- the fellowship of other believers
- the victory over the temptations and struggles of life
- the inheritance of being a child of God
- the promise of eternal life
- the home in Heaven that Jesus has prepared just for you
- and more, more, more!
When you stop at look at it that way…what a bargain! What a blessing!
There is one very important thing to remember about being a member of God’s family. It is by invitation, only. No one could ever be a member if He didn’t invite them. It is by God’s invitation and God set the price for membership. And here is the amazing part. You cannot afford the Initiation fee. The cost is too high. What is it? You have to be perfect, absolutely, totally, perfect. No sin. Zero. Nada. None. Ooops…can’t pay the fee, can you? That’s okay, God knows that…so He paid the fee for you. He sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay for your Initiation fee into the family of God. That is the reason why Jesus can place such a high price on your following Him…because of the price that He paid for you to be able to follow Him. He gave His life for you…so that you can give your life to Him.
So, what are you going to do about it? I’ll tell you…start living like a member…a member of God’s family. Learn what the blessings, and benefits, and privileges are…and start living as a member of God’s family.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,