Sometimes words can haunt us. I don’t mean in a bad way. I mean that they can find their way back into our lives over and over again. Often times—most of the time—for me those words are directly from Scripture. But sometimes they are other words. Words that keep cropping up and speaking into my life. Words that challenge. Words that I have a love/hate relationship with. When I read the words Brennan Manning wrote about Jesus as the lion that would devour us I was captured. These words have come around again and again and challenged me where I have stood. They do so again.
I will not leave you alone. You are mine. I know each of my sheep by name. You belong to Me. If you think I am finished with you, if you think I am a small god, that you can keep at a safe distance, I will pounce on you like a roaring lion, tear you to pieces, rip you to shreds, and break every bone in your body. Then I will mend you, cradle you in my arms, and kiss you tenderly. –Brennan Manning, Lion and Lamb (The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus)
It’s no wonder Jesus called on people to count the cost of discipleship. To consider what following him would require. We like to think of following Jesus in terms of us following, choosing, wanting to be with him and that is all true. But genuine following also means belonging to him, not ourselves.
Do we even grasp what kind of love is so deep as to willingly pounce, tear us to pieces, rip us to shreds, break every bone, just so it can mend us together again in ways that are more whole? I don’t think I comprehend a love that deep. Except in the ways I have been personally ripped apart and tenderly mended together again. Even then, my understanding and appreciation is small at best.
Today I am considering Jesus’ call to count the cost of following him. It will take everything. He will devour me, my loved ones, my things, my pride. He will take it all. And not necessarily with gentleness or anesthetic. He will rip it from me so that all I have is him. Then he will mend me together again with love and tenderness. The cost of following is only everything.
A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
“Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own. Luke 14:25-33
You cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
And when I try to take it back, try to make it mine, try to be in control, he will pounce. I am so grateful for this ruthless love. Jesus is a ferocious lover of souls. He tears us and devours us so as to mend us. He breaks in order to heal rightly that which was twisted and bent. If we think he is finished with us or that he is small and easily held at a distance he may soon come calling, come devouring. And then we will see that he is indeed a devouring lion.