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Parables of Jesus - Cost of Discipleship
Passion Costs A Lot
Becoming a devout fan of a sports team can really cost a person a lot of money. There are the jerseys, the hats, the face and body paint, the flags, the helmets, the lamps, the bedspreads, the blankets, the car plates, the banners, the flags, the signed memorabilia, the limited edition prints, the big screen TV to view them, the season tickets, the plane tickets and hotel bills for the out of town games, and the trading cards. That is just for starters. Now, it’s time to take the loans out and run up more credit cards for the other items.
Costs a lot, doesn’t it? When you totally get into something, it is amazing what you will do to show your loyalty.
When you become a follower of Jesus, you become a disciple. A disciple is not a strictly Christian term. It can be used to describe anyone who follows a religion or teaching. They are someone who accepts it all and wants to learn more and grow more in the teaching. This article will look at it from a Christian perspective.
After accepting Christ as your Savior, the next step is to learn more about Him and grow in His teaching. That path is called discipleship. Becoming a disciple does not mean that you have to join a convent or become a missionary, though many choose that route. It just means that you spend time learning and following His guidance wherever that may be. For some this decision can cost a lot in their lives.
Great Things Cost A Lot
Jesus, Himself, summed it up as
"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'
"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:28-33 NIV)
Many misinterpret these verses and think that when you become a disciple you have to literally give up everything that you have: house, car, job, family. I’m not saying a few over the centuries have not been called to do such, but nowhere in scripture does it say that ALL have to do so. This is Jesus using a very common teaching method of the day in which “stories” are told that are not exactly to be taken literal, but to be applied. And yet at the same time taken very literal.
When a person first comes to Christ, they do give up everything. Sign over their house? No. Give all their possessions to the church? No. Give up their firstborn? No. But they do give it to Him in the sense that they acknowledge in their heart and soul that all these items are not theirs anymore. They are to hand them over to Him and instead of “owning” it all themselves, the disciple becomes a “steward” of it all. They take care of the money, the family, the house, the job, and all the others for God. They have to be willing to possibly let go literally of a few things and accept heartache in others. Where ever He leads they will follow.
It is not always comfortable. Many have decided to travel to far off lands to tell others of Christ and to teach them. These lands might be without running water or electricity. It might be right into hostile war zones. When someone approached Jesus and said that they would go where ever Jesus went, His answer was “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man (Jesus) has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20 NIV) Jesus didn’t live the high life. To follow Him might mean to be without at times.
A High and Dear Price
To become a true disciple also involves complete dedication. Jesus said “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) He doesn’t want half-hearted disciples. He wants complete commitment. That is what the team wants from its players. That is what the marines want from its recruits. True success can only come from total commitment.
Some of what it costs is not voluntary and can be very painful.
Many people lose friends. That is the cost they pay. Not that they necessarily leave them, though some choose to. It is more that some get angry, some just don’t understand the new “interest”, or some try to pull you away from the faith. I’ve seen people lose friends because they automatically assume how the person will react now that they are a “Holy Roller” or “Bible Thumper”.
Many lose family ties. Sometimes when one becomes a Christian, some family members will be upset and actually disown them. Spouses have sought divorce because they could not accept the new faith of their mate. That can be hard to handle when it happens. But it sometimes is a cost. The new Christian is not seeking out these rifts, but it can be a direct result of becoming part of something others are scared of or just don’t understand.
Many have lost safety and security because of their decisions. I personally know of a family who decided to become Christians and had to leave their homeland because of beatings and shunnings from their fellow countrymen. That was a very high price to pay.
Many have lost their lives. That is the highest price. That usually doesn’t happen in America, but in many areas of the world that is the norm. There are some areas where just inquiring on a different religion (not necessarily Christianity) will result in immediate death. A very high price.
Why Would You Do That?
Why would anyone then go through with it and follow Jesus if any of this could happen to them? I’ll be honest. I wrote this question and literally had to sit back and think on it. I was raised in the faith so having to make the initial decision and worry about what I could lose was never in the picture. But upon thinking of it, to continue being a disciple and continually dedicating myself to Him does come with a cost. I have given up where my life takes me. I have placed it all in His hands and wait for His guidance. This means that I have to accept the fact that I’m not in control of my life and that I will follow Him. That can be hard. I won’t lie. Human nature is to be in control and try to shape our destinies. I’m not complaining or making this into a bad thing. I’m happy to do it. I don’t want the stress of dealing with all the unknown and known factors. I’m extremely content (when I’m not trying to take back control) to let Him take care of it all.
When you ask others why they would do it, you get a myriad of answers. I sent an email out to some close friends and relatives and so far got only one response back. They were honest enough to admit that they didn’t know if they could give up their family for Christ. I admire that honesty. It is also a barometer for them on the strength of their faith and their walk with Christ.
I began a different kind of hunt for answers and found several good places out on the old internet to help explain it.
Discipleship: Its Requirements and Its Rewards is a great piece to understanding this. I’ll sum up what the author says, but I highly recommend you reading this one.
· Jesus (God) comes before friends and family
· Following Jesus must be more precious than your own life
· Commitment must be more important than material possessions
· Daily willing to give up personal desires and wants
· The gentlest of Masters to serve – Jesus
· He always equips us for whatever He calls us to do
· Very close and special relationship with Him
· Our motives are the factors and not the actual act
· Jesus Himself as our shield, priest, and comfort
· Never denies us what we really need
The Cost of Discipleship is another good one that causes you to ask “What does Jesus want me to do?” The article directs us to Isaiah who said “Here I am ready to be sent”. It gives you several questions to ask yourself regarding your walk with Christ.
What About You?
What has discipleship cost you if you have taken Jesus up on the offer of living water (eternal life)? I would be very interested to know.