Last evening a question was raised, the question was, “What is a disciple?” We talked for a few minutes about it and all agreed that a disciple was someone who followed Jesus. But there comes a point and time in our walks that we have to make a choice, we have to count the cost of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I know that many of us go to church on Sunday, we have daily devotions and we attend various bible studies. But are we true disciples of Jesus Christ? What if I told you that to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ you must first suffer and you must surely die. Would the cost then of becoming a disciple be as appealing to you? Jesus tells us that to be His disciple, we must do exactly that, we must die.
“And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:27.
A disciple is defined as a “learner, a pupil.” A disciple follows the teachings of one particular teacher. But a disciple is not just someone who is a pupil and follows teachings; a disciple is someone who also imitates his/her teacher. A disciple abides in the words of his teacher. A disciple is more than just someone who follows Jesus around on Sunday’s and occasionally goes to a study, or a church event. A disciple is someone who imitates Christ, and Christ is seen in them and through them. Let us not deceive ourselves, to be a disciple of Christ means that you will have to die.
Jesus tells us that if we do not bear our cross, if we do not deny self, our interests, our desires, then we cannot be His disciple. Being a disciple of Christ requires a total commitment to do the will of God, even to the point of death. Are we willing to go that far? Or do we just want the “Happy” Jesus and not the “Suffering” Jesus? All who claim to love Jesus will eventually have to come to a point in their walks where they will count the cost. We will have to ask ourselves is the love and life of Jesus Christ so precious to us that we are willing to go wherever, do whatever, and be whomever He asks us to be? The road to true discipleship is not an easy one, it is not a winding garden path laden with happy resting places. The road to true discipleship is a walk down death row.
Jesus offered Himself to all, but He was also honest from the very beginning of His preaching about what the journey would involve. What Jesus asks for is first place in our hearts, and that requires a dying to self, and a letting go of all others who might try to usurp His place. True discipleship requires a total commitment and a complete surrender. It is a daily commitment to Jesus Christ, not only to learn from Him, but to imitate Him in all things, including death. Are you willing? Have you counted the cost? Are you ready to go all in for Christ?
A disciple of Christ is also someone who believes His Word, all of His word. A disciple believes the whole Bible, not a Bible full of holes. A true disciple of Christ rests on His sacrifice, His hope of salvation, and the blood of His cross. A disciple of Christ abides in His word. Not just on Sunday’s and occasionally at a bible study, but makes a daily commitment to follow the Lord Jesus wherever He leads, and hides the His word in his heart. (Psalm 119:11) A true disciple of Christ should look like Jesus, everyday of their life on earth. Not just on Sunday’s or at the occasional church barbeque, but daily. A disciple of Christ should be known by their words, their actions and their deeds towards others. A true disciple of Christ shouldn’t have to convince someone they are Christ’s, because their very life emulates Christ all the time.
“Only a person for the sake of His service surrenders all self-seeking, and abandons all striving after his own interests can be His disciple.” (Geldenhuys) To be a Christian is more than going to church on Sunday, listening to a good sermon, or participating in church events. To be a Christian means that you are sold out for Jesus, that no matter what it costs you are willing to follow Him, to learn from Him, and to live for Him, even if that means you have to walk down death row. To be a true disciple of Christ means that we are no longer our own, but we are now His and His alone. We cry out with deep desire to be less so that He can be more. We desire to be used by Him in whatever way He desires, even if that means we will suffer and experience physical death.
When I think about true discipleship, I think about the book of Acts, of Peter and John, Phillip and Stephen. They were sold out. They had seen and experienced the love and mercy, and grace of Jesus Christ and they sought nothing other than Christ in every aspect of their lives. They had counted the cost and were willing to suffer even if it meant death. Are we willing to suffer for the cause of Christ Jesus? Or are we comfortable where we are at, and not willing to go the distance? Sooner or later we have to stop playing at being a Christian and either decide to leave or decide to die. He demands no less, and will accept no less, do not be deceived. The road to true discipleship may be paved with suffering and death, but the glory and the life that awaits us is far greater than we can even fathom. What will it be, death for Christ, which leads to eternal life, or a death which leads the opposite direction?