1. Do you agree with the author that discipleship has its costs? What are the greatest costs for you? What are the greatest "benefits"?
2. Have the downsides of following Jesus or being part of the church ever caused you to walk away and leave Jesus or the church behind? Did you come back? If so, what brought you back?
Costs of Discipleship
"God struck Uzzah because he reached out his hand to the ark of God. David was afraid of the Lord that day [and] he was unwilling to take the ark of the Lord into his care. Instead, David took it to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite, where it remained for three months, and God blessed Obed-edom and all his household." - 2 Samuel 6:6-11
I don't know why God would kill a man who tried to keep the ark of the covenant from falling over—or why King David would think Uzzah's death was God's doing. But of one thing I am fairly certain:
Following Jesus is not for the faint of heart.
Sure, we talk a lot about the Good News, but it's worth remembering that Jesus was executed for living it, and countless Christians have been persecuted for following him.
God knows there are plenty of less-dramatic reasons for keeping a safe distance from the way of Jesus: It is not cool. There is no end to it, and it can be both inconvenient and tiring. Some of the other followers are annoying as all get-out. It can take years to see "results," and there is limitless potential for disappointment and heartbreak. And loving people we want to hate is just plain hard.
I could go on, but here's the thing: All those risky extensions of ourselves, all the long-haul commitment and giving 'til it hurts—that's also where the blessing is, how healing happens, where new, true life is found.
Seeing the blessings the ark of God brought Obed-edom persuaded David to bring it to Jerusalem. In its presence he danced with joyful abandon.
O God, may I desire you and your blessings more than safety, security, and success.