Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Cost of Discipleship

Any person who seriously considers the claim of Christ upon his or her life soon faces the teachings of Scripture that relate to discipleship in its truest meaning. Confronted with the terms of discipleship, many have chosen a life of mediocrity primarily because they are unwilling to pay the price to be His disciple.

There is a cost of discipleship, and that consideration will lead us to become involved in what God is doing in this world. What will that cost be? It will cost you your life! 

I remember an experience related to the cost of discipleship while living in Norman, Oklahoma. I was facing an important decision whether I should go to seminary and answer the call to ministry or continue my work as a biologist and ecologist. I remember praying, “Lord I’m not willing to give my life to biology any more; I want to be involved in the bigger job of the Great Commission.” Even though I was involved in a fruitful work, the struggle of my commitment was real. Having made that decision, I look back today and realize how significant it was, for God has honored it.

In our text passage, Luke 14:25–35, Jesus was followed by a multitude of people apparently out to see Him perform some miracles. He proclaimed to the crowd the conditions for following Him as a disciple. The disciple must: (1) have no rivals in his relationship to Him, and that includes self; (2) bear the cross of identification with Him daily; (3) follow Him unreservedly; and lastly (4) forsake all to be His. Without each of these terms, Jesus insists with absolute authority, “He cannot be My disciple.”

The life of discipleship is the only life any Christian who is serious about his faith can live. Discipleship and its terms must be very thoughtfully studied and reflected upon before one makes a decision. Jesus’ illustration of completing a construction project and carefully evaluating a battlefield situation teaches us this. How true is another statement of Jesus: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

Most Christians have never given any protracted thought to these terms or the cost of discipleship. The only way to avoid the cross is to follow the world. “And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38). Christ requires denial of self at the beginning. Self must abdicate the throne of one’s life. Our Savior was emphatic that no one could be considered His disciple unless they bear the cross (Luke 9:23).

Today in luxury-living America, many Christians shrug off these claims of Christ claiming them unwise or not realistic for today’s world. In many of our churches, the average church member never hears a series of sermons on the terms and cost of discipleship. Yet in small groups, the work can be done as students are confronted with the claims of Christ.

Countless servants of the Lord all stand together in absolute submission to the conditions of discipleship and with one voice say, “It is worth it all, no matter what the cost, for we know His approval.”

As you reflect on this passage, ask God to open your heart to Him and honestly let Him show you the vitality of these conditions. Choose the life of a disciple and let the rewards be yours as you walk with Him daily.

Over the years, I’ve struggled with the connection of Luke 14:34–35 and its relationship to discipleship. It is my understanding that any professed Christian who refuses to be a disciple of Christ when confronted with the conditions Jesus set is like savorless salt. It is no good, only to be cast out. Our churches are full of people like this.

What does it cost to be a disciple of Christ? It will cost your life, yet I must say, the driving force that keeps us going until we stand before Him is “Well done, good and faithful servant!… Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23).