Please read the scripture linked above before reading this month’s article!
Are we just followers, or true disciples of Jesus? There is a difference! If we are a true disciple, then we have rewards in heaven. If we are just followers, we may not.
William Barclay said, “it is possible to be a follower of Jesus without being a disciple; to be a camp follower without being a soldier of the king; to be a hanger-on in some great work without pulling one’s weight. Someone was talking to a great scholar about a younger man. He said, ‘’So and so tells me that he was one of your students.” The scholar answered, “He may have attended my lectures, but he was not one of my students.” There is a world of difference between attending lectures and being a student. It is one of the supreme handicaps of the church that in the church there are so many distant followers of Jesus and so few real disciples.”
As we come into the year 2020, let me remain us that we are called to be disciples and make disciples for the Kingdom of God. To keep us focus on such mission in 2020 and beyond, Luke tells us what will be required on this path to discipleship:
I. COMMITMENT——–V. 23a
“If any want to become my followers…”
In the world that we live in today, commitment is a rare commodity. Commitment means that you will cling to something and refuse to let go of if it, no matter the cost. Too often, though, in our lifestyles, we have no idea what real commitment means. We get too comfortable in our easy chairs with our remotes, when we are called to a mission that could cost us our lives.
Have we really calculated the cost it takes to be a disciple? Can I finish the course: Can I follow Christ to the end? Commitment means that we will cling to something and refuse to let go of it, no matter the cost. That is the kind of commitment Jesus is asking of us. Remember, a disciple is a one convinced adherent of another person and commits his/her life to emulate that person.
II. CRUCIFY——–V. 23b
“Let them deny themselves…”
To whom do we belong? Are we acting like it? Are we crucifying our own lusts and desires to bring glory to the King?
Once we have calculated the cost of commitment in following Christ, we are instructed to kill our old person, and crucify our old ways of living and thinking. If we have committed ourselves to Christ, we no longer belong to ourselves. Because in the act of commitment, we are denying self, and fully giving of ourselves to Jesus.
“Take up their cross…”
The first thing that we must understand about carrying is that every disciple will have a cross to carry. It is impossible to expect to be a true disciple and be free of trials, tribulations and troubles. And when you start to truly follow Christ, you can expect them to multiply, because the devil will be there to try to stop you.
Second, we must understand that the imagery here is of a Roman crucifixion. The Roman soldiers would fix a cross beam for the convicted felon to carry on his journey to death. Every disciple must take up his own cross that God has wisely made just for us on our journey through life, until we die. We are not to bear someone else’s cross, for it is made not for us. While we can “bear one another’s burdens,” we must carry our own cross.
Taking up our cross has always meant our willingness to endure any hardship for the cause of Christ. The willingness to endure any shame, embarrassment, persecution, or hardship. It means that we will sacrifice our life and resources for the cause of Christ just as He sacrificed everything for the cause of us!
Only when a person is committed, denies himself/herself and takes up his/her cross is he/she ready and able to follow Christ. True discipleship is submission to the Lordship of Christ. To follow Christ is to put God’s plan for our life into action. It means that “wherever He leads we will go.”
If God tells us to go to the mission field, we will be following Him because He’s already there! If He tells us to teach a class, we will be following Him because He’s already prepared the lesson. If He tells us to preach the Word, we will be following Him because He’s already prepared the message.
Let us make our personal desires and goals secondary in life and make God’s will our #1, pleasing God and sharing Christ every chance we got. Looking forward to serving with you all in 2020. Happy New Year!!!