THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
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Luke 14:25-33 Luke 9:57-62
The cost of discipleship. It cost Jesus. It cost the disciples. To be worth anything, it’s got to cost you.
To be a disciple, one who does the will of God, it cost Jesus a lot. It cost him what many might call the pleasures of life:
the comforts of marriage and a home, popularity, ridicule, death in the agony of hanging on a cross. It cost Jesus.
The cost of discipleship. It cost the disciples quite a bit too. Jesus said, “Follow me.” One man said I must bury my father, then I’ll follow. Jesus replied, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Jesus was not interested in their excuses.
Do you suppose God is not interested in our excuses? We are asked for the supreme sacrifice – give up your ego and follow. Christ so emphasized this giving of all, that Bacon noted in his writing, “prosperity is the blessing of the Old testament; adversity is the blessing of the New.”
The principle obstacle to discipleship is concern with yourself – especially your comforts. As one person put it, “It’s natural to think habitually of ourselves, remembering others only when their inescapably confront us; Jesus is calling us to think habitually of others, and only occasionally remember ourselves.” (Interpreters Bible, Vol. 8,p170)
We all must face countless burdens in life, but that’s not what Jesus was referring to when he said, “If any want to be my followers, let them deny themselves and take up your cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) It’s not some calamity, loss of a loved one, shortcoming in our temperament; it’s not enduring the hardships that come our way. To take a cross is to volunteer, in spite of hardships. To carry someone else’s burden for Christ’s. It is deliberately choosing an action that could be evaded. To take up the cross is plain old fashioned self-denial.
The cost is great. The rewards may be few, the road bumpy, but to those who persevere will find a life of meaning and joyous satisfaction. The Christian faith affirms that apart from Jesus Christ one cannot know this fullness of life. There are compensations, however even in this life which far out weigh any sufferings or renunciations we may be called upon to make.
Most people seem content to drift to and fro with the crowd. There is a saying: “Fools wander, wise men travel.” When you decide with your mind and heart where you want to go with your life, you also have to decide with your mind and heart what your willing to pay to get there. Christ asks for all of you. So when the preacher asks for more of your time or money or whatever, as god’s spokesperson, your being asked for more of you.
You who are parents – were you happy when your children were born? Vicky and I were deliriously happy seeing Clark and Adam born. Even with our insurance we knew we would have to struggle to meet expenses but we decided to keep them. We took Tim in as a foster child and when he was not adopted, we adopted him after a year.
For many years following they brought us indescribable happiness, but Clark, Adam and Tim never brought in a penny, but we kept them and any friends they gathered along the way.
Life you know, is never very certain. There is always the possibility that Clark, Adam or Tim might lose life in a war, or an accident or from an illness. Then we couldn’t keep that one any more and he wouldn’t cost us a cent. The dead never do.
And you know anything alive, whether it’s a child or a church is going to cost and cost. And when it stops costing, then it’s too late.
The cost of discipleship is high, but only those who are willing to make the investment will ever know burdens to be easy and life to be abundant.
In a moment of quiet, would you consider committing one more aspect of your life so that your discipleship would be more pleasing to God.