It seems to be an accepted rule in American foreign policy to avoid all showdowns. Confrontations are definitely out. Statesmen face issues but politicians dodge them. The same policy prevails in the religious world. If this rule had been followed in the past, Joshua would never have demanded that Israel choose whom they would serve. Elijah would have worked things out with the priests of Baal on Carmel. Paul would have had a summit conference with Peter at Antioch. Above all, our Lord would not have had a head-on collision with the devil at the very beginning of His ministry. Today we are told that issues are not black and white and cannot be met by direct “yes” or “no.” Black and white have indeed been smudged into indefinite gray, but not so in God’s Book.
Our Lord’s attitude toward prospective disciples was exactly the opposite of our approach today. We dare not mention the cost of discipleship for fear we shall scare away prospects. He did not encourage cheap dedication. He seemed to dash cold water on the enthusiasm of would-be disciples (Luke 9:57-63). He gave the rich young rule a shock treatment, not a massage. Alexander McLaren says, “The best way to deepen and confirm good resolutions too swiftly formed is to state very plainly the difficulty in keeping them.” This is utterly different from our psychology, but it is Scriptural to challenge cheap consecration. Let us never forget our Lord’s description of those who hear the Word and receive it with joy but have no root in themselves, and the son who said “I go, sir,” but went not.