Jesus said: "Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."
In a very famous speech in the House of Commons in 1940, at the height of World War 2, Winston Churchill said: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." That saying has gone down in history to describe a really serious situation a person may get into — the only way out is through "blood, toil, tears and sweat."
That is what our Lord Jesus is telling us the cost of following him may very well bring to us. "Taking up the cross" must have sent shivers through the hearts of those to whom Jesus first said these words — they were like a death sentence. So many of those early Christians and so many since then paid that extreme cost as they faithfully followed Christ.
Putting Jesus first in our lives leaves us open to all sorts of opposition and possible rejection even by our own relatives and friends. But that is the reality if we are seriously following Jesus faithfully. It also means we should be very clear about that cost if we are to become a Christian. It isn't just a case of being "nice" to people; it is an honest handing over of our life to Jesus and being prepared for anything that might follow.
Of course, along with the cost, there is the "crown", whether in this life or the life to come. Jesus himself will be with us each step of the way.
Dear Lord, help me to be a faithful follower of yours, come what may. Amen.