Jesus says His disciples should count the cost before following Him:
“Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:27-30).
But they do not teach Christians in churches to carry crosses and pay the price of discipleship. Instead, they are seduced by the notion that Christianity is about getting and getting from the Lord.
The salvation of the soul is perfected: “In weariness and painfulness, in watching often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness.” (2 Corinthians 11:27).
Jesus paid the price. Even though He is God, He paid the price: “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8).
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13).
The salvation of the soul will not take place without a major effort on our part. Health and life will not take place without our own exertion. Jesus says God the Father is always working. If God works, then we must work. If Jesus paid the price, then we must pay the price. A servant is not greater than his master. We must work out what God worked in us. We must not despise the grace of God. God has given us the whole ability. We must do something useful with it.
“The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle” (Psalm 78:9).
God armed them, they carried bows, and nevertheless, they refused to fight for their own deliverance.
Count the cost
So, if you are a Christian and insist you are Christ’s disciple, my question to you is this: “What have you lost?” “What has your commitment to Jesus cost you?” “Do you even know what is your cross?” “If you do, have you been carrying it without complaining?”
Christians expect to be blessed by following Jesus. But Christ’s disciples know they are already blessed. They teach Christians to expect their blessings in material riches, but Christ’s disciples know their blessings are spiritual. Christians expect money as a reward of stewardship. But Peter, a disciple of Christ, maintains: “Silver and gold I do not have.” (Acts 3:6).
In the church of today, money answers all things. But for the disciple, Christ is always the answer. Jesus is not only what we have, but He is also what we have to give. Money cannot change a man’s life. Money cannot make a difference in a man’s life. Only Jesus can.
What a disciple has is Christ who is more than enough. David says: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” (Psalm 23:1).
Jesus says: “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.” (Matthew 10:24). But the truth of the matter is that Christians today are not like Jesus.
Brothers of the same family look alike. The Bible says: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29). But Christians are not brothers but parodies of Christ.
The Bible says of the Jewish Council: “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13).
We cannot say this testimony of today’s Christians.
Jesus says: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29).
But Christians are not gentle. We do not want to be lowly. We are yoked to men and not to Christ.
Servants or masters?
Jesus says: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28).
But Christians want to be masters and not servants. We want to be rulers of Egypt and not servants in Egypt. Christian husbands insist their wives must submit to them. But do we love our wives like Christ loved the church? Are we masters of our houses or servants? As long as we insist we are masters, we are not disciples of Christ.
Should you still insist you are a disciple of Christ, see if this shoe fits you. Do you place your commitment to Christ over your convenience? Otherwise, you are not a disciple.
Do you choose suffering instead of sin? Otherwise, you are not a disciple. “Take heed, do not turn to iniquity, for you have chosen this rather than affliction.” (Job 36:21).
Do you choose pain over pleasure? Otherwise, you are not a disciple of Christ.
The psalmist says: “Zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.” (Psalm 69:9).
The Bible testifies of Moses: “When he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:24-26).
But Christians disdain the reproach of Christ. We try as much as possible to avoid it. We even pray to God to shield us from it. Therefore, we cannot be disciples of Christ.
It does not matter if we pack the churches in thousands on the mountains of Kilimanjaro. Disciples are not made by church attendance. They do not come by marking present on a church register.
Do you realise that in three-and-a-half years of ministry, Jesus only made 120 disciples? Disciples are made with a lifestyle and not with a crowd.
Looking unto Jesus
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2).
Jesus had one burning desire, to be in the Father’s house. He had one burning passion: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34).
That is His template for discipleship.