The cost of discipleship
And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.… In the same way any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
Here’s something we don’t often hear being preached about – the high cost of being a disciple of Jesus. “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
The cross was the most feared and hated symbol of Roman rule. No person in his right mind would voluntarily take it up. And yet, here is Jesus inviting those who would follow Him to take it up of their own free will. I wonder how many turned away from following Him after that because they thought the price too high?
Jesus never promised that being His disciple would be a bed of roses, never said it would be an easy thing. We want the blessings – “the cattle on a thousands hills” – but He wants to put a cross upon our shoulders! We want Him to give us everything but first He demands everything of us!
To the people under Roman rule the cross was a nightmare, the end of hopes and dreams; it was death and decay. But to God, the cross symbolized something altogether different – sacrifice and death yes, but also the fulfillment of new life in Christ Jesus. It was the ultimate “not my will but yours be done,” the greatest gift a person could give to his Creator – total submission. And that is the path of discipleship.
I wonder how many people would accept Christ today if we told them that He requires of them everything they have, that sacrifice and submission would be their lot if they accepted Him as Lord?
I wonder how many of us Christians shift uneasily in our chairs at the prospect of our God demanding everything of us? We prefer not to put it in such stark terms. We’d rather see it as a commitment to do a few things for Jesus while retaining overall control of our lives.
Give up everything? Surely that is too radical, too fanatical, too extreme! It is easy, I guess, to take the name “Christian” and many do, but a Christian without a cross is a paradox.
Are you struggling with the cross this morning? Is God calling you to walk down that Golgotha road of sacrifice and submission to Him? Is He nailing your cherished dreams to the cross so that so that you can take up the dream of God? Is He demanding of you your precious time and your scarce resources for the cause of His kingdom?
It really is a call to lay down all your desires, a giving up of things, isn’t it? But we are disciples of Jesus Christ…and it is par for the course. We gladly take up our cross for it is an awesome privilege to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Jim Elliot, a missionary to Ecuador, who gave his life for the cause of the Gospel, wrote this some weeks before he was killed, aged 28: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”