Paul eases us into his book, which may well be a reflection on the target audience. It feels to me like his introduction spans the first two chapters! This also works to break the news gently: yes, Jesus really is telling us that he wants all of us. Chapter One is a short chapter about how that feels, a clever device (intentionally?) that acknowledges that this is not an easy thing to do, giving your life to Jesus, and then chapter two underscores what the cost will be.
I was so pleased to hear Paul say so clearly that following Jesus is not about making us feel good. Sadly, far too many churches want to dress it up as a good deal in the eyes of the world, but when you open your Bible, as Paul does very entertainingly in this chapter, you do see that this is not how Jesus represented himself. Did you also enjoy the 'Paul Grimmond translation' of these Bible passages? He interprets by rewording, a clever device that helped me to see new things in these texts. I hope it was as much a careful exposition as an entertaining one! It's hard to tell, with the casual tone. Don't underestimate it I think, don't be fooled by tone, Paul teaches deep theology very subtly. For example, his choice of words puts his finger on the issue of what's wrong with money: 'once money becomes your source of your security and hope, it has taken the place of God.' (p 25) Now I see clearer than ever before how it is idolatry.
We're left at the end of this chapter with the idea that Jesus makes an absolute claim over us, just as he claimed Peter, the woman at the well and Zacchaeus. And we're promised that this will be spelled out in practicalities in the chapters to come, another concept that’s keeping me reading with interest – we often neglect to show how these things work in practice. Paul begins with us counting the cost, a biblical principle that we often skip in our haste to see our evangelism bear fruit, but the price is relatively high ... our whole lives!! It’s best to spend some time thinking about what we’re signing people up for so they will make a lasting deal