The first Christians didn’t have to wonder what in the world did Jesus mean by carrying the cross or hating family relationships or even life itself. The cost of discipleship was not hypothetical or expressed by increased personal piety or putting an extra something in the offering plate. They carried real crosses to places of crucifixion. They were kicked out of synagogues, disowned by families, excluded from participating in commerce and dragged into courts for confessing Christ. Our problem, if we want to call it that, is no one cares if we follow Christ or not and we are certainly not persecuted for our beliefs. Oh I know we can’t have officially endorsed Christian prayer in secular schools anymore and the Christ has gone missing from Christmas and media caricatures of Christians are generally negative, but do you really want to compare that to being torn apart by wild beasts in the arena? I get a tax break from the IRS for being a minister for goodness sake! No. We are still very much in the mainstream of societal life and so our counting the cost is not nearly as expensive as it was in the past or is in the present for Christians in places like the Sudan or Palestine or Iraq. So how do we count the cost when where we live subsidizes and even celebrates our belief system rather than trying to stamp it out? Speaking for myself I will confess that whatever I do it will not be enough, not because I can’t but because at some level I won’t. I have grown comfortable with one foot planted firmly in the world I love while trying to keep a toe hold in the land I long for. I have borrowed against the unfinished building and accepted terms of peace even before counting the opposing forces. But then that is why Jesus was crucified isn’t it? For the cost I am unwilling to pay, the cross I won’t carry, the ways I will not forsake. Well yes. Yes it is. But that cannot be where it ends. There is, I believe, a hope in the heart of the One who carried the cross for us that one day in our confession of not being willing, feet firmly planted in the ways of the world will slip and toes will take a firmer grip in the world that will be until standing up in the here and now those who won’t… finally will.