Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Cost of Non Discipleship

Luke 14:25-33 (NIV)
The Cost of Being a Disciple
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 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. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

Following Jesus is not easy – and anybody who thinks it is has, clearly, not tried it. Dallas Willard, in his book The Spirit of the Disciplines, wisely notes, “It was right to point out that one cannot be a disciple of Christ without forfeiting things normally sought in human life, and that one who pays little in the world’s coinage to bear his name has reason to wonder where he or she stands with God.” Willard adds, “The cost of non-discipleship is far greater – even when this life alone is considered – than the price paid to walk with Jesus.” Jesus himself tells us that “his yoke is easy and his burden is light,” and the apostle John tells us that “God’s commands are not burdensome to us.” Seldom do we consider what we would lose if we abandoned the life that Jesus offers. Willard again: “Non-discipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in light of God’s overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil. It short, it costs exactly that abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring.”

The language of salvation “by grace through faith”, for so long the hallmark of the churches that come from the Protestant Reformation, can be misinterpreted to mean that because grace is free, it is also cheap. In 1937, Dietrich Bonhoeffer published The Cost of Discipleship to remind us that while God's grace is a free gift, it is not cheap since God paid the ultimate price - the life of Christ - to demonstrate his unparalelled love for the world and to allow us to have access into a relationship with him. 

As people who follow in Christ’s footsteps, as those who pick up our cross daily, we are called to chose to give up the comfort of living for ourselves and chose to give ourselves for others.

v  What does it mean for you, today, to pick up your cross and follow Christ?

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