The Cost of Discipleship:Luke 9:23-26, Matt 16, Mark 9:34-38
Luk 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Luk 9:24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
Luk 9:25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
Luk 9:26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.
Luk 9:27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
The cost of Discipleship, who can bear such a price
To take up a cross of the world and lay hold on eternal life?
How is it that in preserving the only thing we wish to hold
We are also condemned to despair and an empty soul?
Why must my Savior have such weighty words, and such a claim?
That the ones who will suffer in this world will be those who bear His name,
That the world will despise the message, and the grace of a loving king
Oh what state we are in oh world when we find comfort in sin’s sting.
The cost of discipleship, who then will stand in this growing gap
Who then in this world will bear witness of truth?
The Cost is high, but the toll is paid. We have but a short life here on this earth, and we have an amazing opportunity to give it away. There has been many famous men and women who have made claim that a life full of satisfaction is a life full of giving to others. There is truth in this as we see here in Luke 9. Jesus Christ is calling us to be givers, calling us to be greater givers than any ever before. We are being called out to be life givers. This is not a call to just give something it is also a call to lose something. Paul wrote in Phillippians 3 that he counts all as loss before the excellency of God his savior. Can we possibly claim this, can we truly lay our life aside and definitively say it is dead, it is loss, it is gone? The answer is no. simply no, if you are a christian you may say but Christ. . ., and I would amen that, but we also have this reality that as we give something away we still hold onto it. There is still in our mind the taste of a former life, the pleasures of it, the consequences of it, the good and the bad. Our intellect cannot forget the former life, as we wake up with it starring at us in the mirror. It is given to God, if you are a christian, but there is still a mind and body that daily will remember this exchange. As we grow we come to terms of this exchange and realize the truth that God was on the bad end of the deal as He took sin and gave us new life. We will clearly see early on as a christian that God as He transforms our life will reveal the former life’s shallowness. God will also reveal how much greater is the gain. As our premise to life is changed we in turn are changed into the image of Christ himself. We will progressively be redeemed back to our intended image from creation! That is the ultimate comfort to the christian as experience will often prove that we are still the man we were before, and truth will show us that God is with us and dwelling within our heart changing everything.
The cost of discipleship is the cross. You may ask what is it, why is it that the christian walk is so focused on the cross? It is the finished work of God! It is in perspective of time the last stroke on God’s masterpiece of redemption. It was the last motion that is coming closer and closer to the end of time’s canvas. With the cross, the salvation of fallen man is made possible, the burden of a call and eternal purpose is made real. That is what we are to bear, This is our cross! The burden of God’s love, the burden of warfare, and the burden of a call. Within these three burdens I can draw a picture encompassing the whole life as a christian carrying his cross.
First we have the love. It is a burden and it is a cross for us as we are not accustomed or even naturally drawn to live this way as a fallen man. It is this love that breaks our backs of pride, shame, guilt and fear. It is this love that opens our eyes to Christ. A Pastor shared with me one day a story from His time as a taxi cab evangelist. He stated that he had an islamic client one time that was conversational with him about the message of Christ. The man eventually stopped the pastor from speaking of it anymore, but what followed for the rest of the trip was not what he expected. The pastor thought he had offended the man and there was no chance the man would be friendly anymore, but what had actually happened was the man stopped him so that he could process what was said about Christ. At the end of the ride the man paid the fare and leaned over to speak to the pastor and said: “I am realizing Christianity is a religion of love” and he walked away. This is amazing, It is more than a religion of love it is the only thing on this planet expressing true love. That is a bold statement I know, but as I learn more and more of life through the lens of Christ it is clear that only Jesus has revealed to us what true love is. It is this love that should be carried by a believer and it is this love that continually breaks the believer into loving others with true love from God.
We then have the burden of suffering or the weight of warfare. For any christian this should be apparent as there is a whole new realm of mental,physical, and spiritual fronts that are revealed as you follow Christ in His word. This burden is often ignored and or placed on others. This is where I believe that a christian may hurt others instead of helping them. Warfare must be done with God and the love of Christ. I have seen and been actively part of a bad warfare where people are hurt,discouraged and sometimes turned away from Christ as we neglect to face the battle with Christ. All to often we ignore the battle and let it eat away the life we have been given and we then turn to our old way and will actually be used for evil instead of good. Christ has won the war, but has given us an active part in the battle. We must bear this part of our cross as good soldiers and fight a good warfare. It is within this burden that we find maturity,wisdom, and are equipped for the ministry and care of others. Before we even interact with friends or family for Christ we will often have a battle to overcome. Whether it is a battle with our past or our present character flaws and imperfections it is nonetheless a battle. The great thing about this fight whether it takes form within our mind or physically with physical manifestation of evil is that we are in perfect position to overcome. With Christ love, with Christ power we have the ability to overcome. The result may not be what we expect all the time, but we can and have overcome many things with Christ. It is with these two burdens married together that we find a fruitful and amazingly relational ministry to others. True friendships can be formed from here, fruitful ministries can be grown from this point where warfare is carried out effectively in the power of Christ love towards us. We then complete the weight of our cross with ministry to others. The cross we bear can and will daily affect people around us if we will accept this cost of discipleship. If we will just carry the whole cross, its complete burden and its completely new life we will be disciples, effective disciples for Christ. How I long to bear my cross and not carry the former cross that Christ dealt with. The cross of Christ dealt with Sin and its burden we have a new burden, we have a lighter yoke upon us. We have a burden that lightens others burdens, we have a yoke that enables people to move forward. The cost of Discipleship must not be ignored, We must as a believer carry our cross and leave the cross of death behind. We must and should carry life to the world, as someone has carried life to you before. If you are reading this and still feel the weight of death the fear of it and the shame of sin, you may not have the new life of Christ. Lay this life down at the cross of death and take up the new cross of life! Be transformed to His way today, carry the whole cross Christ has given us and leave the cross of death on that hill where Christ laid down His life for you and me. Accept him today, believe that Christ has done it all, and know if you have accepted this life, you have a cross of life to share with others.