Discipleship of Jesus Christ requires great costs. Image: Timon Studler|Unsplash
In Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, the apostles, disciples, and His followers often besieged the Lord with the question and rhetoric: “How do I follow you? You have the words of eternal life.”
He said to a large crowd: “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.” – Luke 14:26
His responses were gut-wrenching and hard to accept. They involved giving up their belief system and values that they held for so long in their lives. As a result, many people rejected Him or fled.
Following Jesus is a life-changing decision. But, when we seriously decide to pursue Christ and His precepts, we muster the courage to hurdle the challenges and gain the right to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Essence of Discipleship
Following Jesus Christ comes at a high cost. Discipleship is not just about praying, reading the Bible, attending church, or doing good deeds. It intrinsically means surrendering to God’s will and obeying His commands.
The Parable of the Narrow and Wide Gates illustrates the stringent criteria for reaching the Kingdom of God. Because the costs are high, many cannot attain the promised eternal life espoused by Jesus Christ, like a “camel going through the eye of a needle.”
“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’” – Luke 9:23
Our fallen nature often dictates the prioritization of our earthly needs and wants. Most of our time is spent meeting our imposed selfish goals and missions—a good job, a happy family life, and sound health. There’s nothing wrong with that! The Bible tells us to be good and righteous people on earth. But the problem lies when we prioritize these “things of the world” instead of God. When we put more value on work, family, and ourselves than on God, the Bible says we cannot be His disciples.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” – Matthew 7:24
Obedience is the cornerstone of our faith. It means surrendering to God’s will and following the precepts of His Word. The Old and New Covenants point out God’s laws and ways in which we can attain righteousness and conform to His holy will.
We are sometimes caught in a quandary about whether we should obey our earthly masters in contravention of the Word of God. Our bosses may tell us to manipulate the company’s tax records or pursue projects that harm people and pollute the seas. In similar instances, obedience to God takes precedence over our compliance with our superiors in the workplace.
“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. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26-27
The cross at Mt. Calvary symbolizes the fulfillment of the incarnation of Christ. The life of Jesus is one of physical and spiritual sacrifice. He had to abandon the things of this world to fulfill His calling as the Messiah. Jesus had to sleep without a pillow and live without a permanent home. He often spent His time on the streets, seaside, and mountains, walking under the sun’s heat to realize His mission. Jesus had no romantic love life and did not indulge in parties or sports.
True discipleship demands that we forsake the world to attain the likeness of Jesus Christ.
“Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” – John 15:20
Persecution is the hallmark of being a Christian.
How often do we experience indifference and rejection from our loved ones and friends because we no longer participate in rowdy parties or binge drinking?
Sometimes, they feel that we have become “aliens” since we no longer ascribe to the traditions and customs of man.
Discipleship means being ready for harassment and discrimination. Jesus and the apostles were called bad names, rejected, and punished. The Scriptures underscore the shipwrecks, hunger, imprisonment, and even death usually experienced by Christ and His disciples.
Following Jesus Christ is Difficult But Rewarding
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14
Following Jesus is a profound lifestyle change that entails considerable costs that challenge our adopted ways of living. The Lord calls us to pray after waking up, before sleeping, and during meals. He also wants us to love our enemies. God is not a god of compromise. He solicits sheer obedience and compliance to His will.
The arrogant and wealthy young man in the Bible fled when He asked Jesus how he could gain eternal life. Jesus replied, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”- Mark: 10:21
God is not against money or wealth. On the contrary, He wants us to have an abundant life. Christianity is also about being good and responsible stewards of our families, work, and possessions.
The key to pleasing God lies in renewing our mindsets to prioritize God over everything else. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can attain and attune the right balance for a righteous and fulfilling life.
We are all sinners, and our fallen nature often fails us in reaching the holiness of God. Moreover, the works of the Devil and the demands of this world often block us from diligently walking with the Lord. But, with our unswerving faith in Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the narrow gate beckons us to enter eternal life.