Luke: The Cost of Being a Disciple

Read: Luke 14:25-35

In Luke’s gospel account, we’re still far from events directly surrounding Easter, but Jesus is already talking about the cross. Take some time and read the passage linked above as we consider Easter. I have to believe that most failed to understand the significance of this line of thought when Jesus spoke these words:

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27

No one in their right mind would have thought He would soon carry His own cross on the way to Golgotha.

This week is Holy Week and the overwhelming thought of the crucifixion weighs heavily on my mind. Tomorrow we will consider The Way of the Cross (our term) based on The Stations of the Cross from our Catholic Church brothers and sisters.

Jesus goes on to explain what He means in the passage and concludes with this vivid reality:

In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. Luke 14:33

Being a disciple is so much more than accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. I get frustrated when I hear the statement, “It’s easy, all you have to do is ____ and you’re saved!” Most of the time the altar call happens when we’ve tugged on emotions through Spirit-lead music or preaching, we’ve worked up emotions to the brink and deliver the punchline.

Does this means we shouldn’t invite people to accept Jesus? By no means! I’m certainly not suggesting we refrain from offering the invitation, but when I read this passage, I get the message that discipleship is far more than decisionship. And we should be clear and up front with that distinction.

In other words, make the altar call, but don’t preface the invitation with words that this is an easy path. Make it hard, but not legalistic and not based on human conditions. Point to the words in this passage, words from Jesus.

Consider this example: imagine being selected for a sports team that openly accepts anyone, regardless of ability, compared to one that wants you to demonstrate your skills and abilities.  The first team has lots of players, but lacks any sense of accomplishment compared to the second (not to mention the ensuing season of competition). The first team holds hands a lot and has fun, but even after being selected for the second team, I know I have to keep proving myself daily in order to keep my spot.

In our culture, we’ve taken sports to an unhealthy extreme, but the concept I’m trying to paint is one of distinction. I want nothing to do with the Universalist “church” movement. My hope is that Christians, true Christ-followers, look different from the rest of the world because we are willing to take up our cross for the sake of Christ.

Jesus makes it clear when He explains what it means to be a disciple and what it means to NOT be a disciple:

…such a person cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26

Lord, I want to be Your disciple. Help me understand how that looks today. Make it hard. With the help of the Spirit, I can and I will follow You, all the way to the cross and beyond.

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

My prayer is for you to join me on this journey. Subscribe to this blog below to get an email when a new post is available.

Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

2 Replies to “Luke: The Cost of Being a Disciple”

  1. My thought regarding your comparison to the 2 sports teams is that it does sound a little like there are a bunch of things you have to do to follow Jesus. But He accepts us just as we are. Then the training and “conditioning” begins by being discipled by followers of Jesus who are disciple-makers.

    The problem really is that we tell people to pray this prayer out of a place of emotional manipulation (at times) so we can get our salvation numbers up, but then we provide nothing. So new Believers become spectators. They don’t get to know Jesus to the point that they’d be willing to take up the cross.

    I remember being 10 years old when Jesus changed my life. In that moment, as a small child, I was ready to do anything for Christ. Take up a cross? Bring it on. I remember even knowing in that moment that I would give the rest of my life to serve him. I knew I wanted to minister to the masses, right? One week goes by…I pour myself into the Bible. I didn’t even know where to start, so I just started at the beginning. Two weeks go by…I continue to soak up scripture. God is creating a new heart in me. Several weeks more go by…it gets tougher. I need someone to walk this journey with me. My love for God didn’t waver, but my strength and stamina did. Home life was a disaster. I couldn’t hold it all. I never got discipled. How lonely I felt at 10 years old! I was the only one in my family that believed. I was losing friends likely because they were tired of me witnessing to them! Ha!

    Have you read The Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoeffer. It’s not an easy read. Actually, it hurts right in the gut. I may revisit that one since reading this.

    1. I certainly agree with your thoughts about comparing sports teams. It’s thin ice going in that direction for an analogy. My goal was to consider that Jesus never pulled any punches when it came to being His disciple. He absolutely saves those who call upon His name and the Spirit is alive and well to provide the “conditioning” as you mention. I’m with you all the way.

      It breaks my heart to hear that you were not discipled, but I’m not surprised. We don’t teach discipleship, we teach decisionship. In this season of my life, I hope to begin to change that paradigm. The next two parables are so powerful, I hope we, the big WE, can slow down enough to get serious about that which Jesus was incredibly serious about.

      Thanks for your comment. I hope this sparks conversations. Maybe it’s time to dust off The Cost of Discipleship again.

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