Last night, an hour before I arrived, two cars came flying down the street we have to watch. The guard on duty - an ex-con turned pastor - saw this and drove his car around to see what the heck was going on - because we end in a cul de sac in 300 yards and there is no reason to go flying past our office at 50 mph. As he drove around and got closer, he heard a huge THOOOMMPFF! and saw that one of the cars was BURNING in an open field. The second car began hauling tail out down the street. My bud tried to block them, but in a burst of speed, they blew past, just as he yanked his wheel to narrowly avoid a BAD collision. They weren't "playing" as we say.
The got to the main drag and were gone. We didn't get the license plate number either. Rats.
Police and fire department came out, put out the fire and got all the info. Seems that the car was stolen earlier that afternoon. The previous owner showed up with his father to get some pictures for insurance purposes. We currently believe it was part of a gang initiation rite. The theft and use was only for a few hours and had no other discernable purpose. Just to do it - to show you were fearless, lawless, I guess.
I have heard of few other styles of gang intitation and this one sounds pretty tame - though I do not know if there are any other ugly details in this case. They range from shoplifting to shooting yourself (leg, arm, somewhere) to killing another human being.
Like I said, this one's tame - about 3 or 4 on the evil-gang-o-meter. We do not want to talk about the ones higher up the scale.
But we all have reasons to join a group, don't we? We all look at what it costs, and why we want to do it. From ruthless corporate ladder-climbing politics to being a Gansta Disciple, you have to "pay your dues" and "pony up" the fee to really be "in". You want to advance and become one of the top dogs? You gotta sacrifice and do it 'better' than anyone else.
In Micronauts issue one, Commander Rann joins the resistance. The son of nobility and an intrepid adventurer, he left his home a thousand years earlier and forsook everything he knew for a great adventure. He must now side with those who oppose Baron Karza's rule, and for him, it is a no-brainer. Strangely, he immediately hooks up with a thief named Bug - an Insectorvorid - and Prince Acroyear (pronounced AK-roy-uhr) of Spartak, the rightful king, who was ALSO betrayed and overthrone. Soon added to this motley crew was Princess Mari (nee Marionette) and Microtron her faithful companion, another roboid.
So in a group of 6 heroes, you have 3 royalty and two faithful servants. Bug was almost royalty it seems to me - his "gang" was more like Robin Hood and his thieves than anything else. All have lost their rightful positions in life, and all are ready to save Homeworld from Karza. But they need help.
They go through a series of adventures, make friends on Earth with the Big People, fight a psychotic NASA administrator, return to the Microverse, overthrow Prince Shaitan, restore Acroyear's throne and Rann ends up becoming a deity-level warrior who battles Baron Karza, throwing his energy form/body down into the Pit of Homeworld in a glorious final battle.
It all starts with joining the right team. You have to "buy in" to the program. You have to count what it will cost you to be that mighty a warrior, able to wage that level of warfare. Homelands, relationships, etc.
Or as my roommate Roger noted back in 1987, "We think it'd be cool to be Luke Skywalker, but man... his life sucks when you think about it."
The girl you think is beautiful is your sister, your uncle and aunt and home are torched, your mentor gets killed and your second one dies -and this is all because your dad is the most evil anti-hero in the universe. Whom you fight. Who ends up killing the emperor but dies in the process just as he says "You were right, son. You were right."
Ain't a very pretty life is it?
Pshaw. Its just the hero meme. Its what happens. What MUST happen.
Jesus affirms this cost and sacrifice to learn what it really means to be like Himself, the Hero of Heroes. To be a True Disciple. This ain't about salvation - you can be saved and be a baby Christian. No, this is about discipleship - what mature Christians go for. Trying to be JUST like Jesus and seeing from His perspective -easily and "naturally" the World we live in.
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'
"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
Now as I said this is NOT about salvation - I can prove that by various texts. This is about being an Olympic-level Christ-follower - radical, un-natural in the world's eyes, and because of this commitment, able to do things other believers cannot do.
They have enough faith to face the world and say "Bring it on."
Remember David - the little shepherd boy - and Goliath? David was stunned other guys were scared of the bully. David ends up telling him he's going down before he does it in a one-shot kill.
That level of courage will cost you friends and family. They cannot go with you nor understand why you are doing it. They admire you, respect you, but they ain't a-coming along folks.
They may have counted the cost and asked for "terms of peace". Jesus graciously grants peace to all who ask for it. (Note: we are the "warring foes" in this parable - we ARE at war with God until we have peace with Him through the King - Jesus). But if we want to "fight the good fight" and "Join the Rebellion", it is going to cost like it costs every soldier going off to war - you leave everything behind.
We usually call these guys missionaries to foreign lands, but they need not be. You can do it here in America. I personally discovered AFTER the fact I had been a missionary in the Inner City. Since I was still in my hometown of Memphis, I did not count it as such - until I realized a year had passed without me seeing my buds or doing anything with my church groups. I was isolated from them RIGHT in the middle of the city.
So it is not a physical distance. It is relational distance. And therefore folks, it feels just like hatred. You are breaking off any and every relationship not connected to His Kingdom.
Remind me to tell you how my last breakup went - and I was breaking up for the sake of Christ. Oh, that hurt worse than my divorce.
It was then I earned the right to call myself a True Disciple of Jesus. And whole passages that made no sense whatsoever before suddenly became clear as day.
I don't know if I counted the cost properly to be honest.
Yeah, I said something fairly carnal even as I went to follow Him. I was utterly shocked how much it hurt for me to leave my hometown. I literally wailed aloud in my car as I drove north. My heart understood what my head did not.
Jesus understood. I believe He was crying too. I thought I was saved by grace, but that is only the first part of it. I am saved from a useless life by my faith in serving Him. When I committed to follow Him, I was saying "I have no idea what will happen next, but I trust you. You are worth it."
Discipleship is costly because it is precious. It is true fellowship with Jesus.
I will tell you this: it was - and is - worth it to be on His Team.
One dear saint was once asked: "Does God have favorites?"
He replied: "Oh no -but He does have intimates."
I am, by His word, His brother, His intimate.
There is nothing better than that. It is worth it. It is worth it.