The goal of a disciple
What does it cost to be a disciple?
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26.
It is possible to come to Him without becoming His disciple. It is possible to have your sins forgiven without stopping with sin, and this is how it is with most Christians. But Jesus never sinned.
On the other hand, it is easy to see how many religious people sin, since many of them lie, do not pay their debts, are proud, backbite their neighbours, are suspicious etc. None of these Christians can say like Paul, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV).
The goal of disciples is to follow their Master and become like Him. Disciples listen carefully to what the Spirit tells them to do and hate all well-meaning but human advice from father, mother, brothers, sisters, wife, and children. They even hate their own lives, their own sinful will and nature, and therefore they are constantly judging themselves - they see the sinful things they are tempted to, and refuse to give in to them. In this way, they overcome sin and Satan. They have the joy of always keeping themselves pure from evil.
“And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:27.
It lies in our human nature that we don’t want to suffer – we would rather sin than suffer. For example, if a person has done something wrong, the easiest thing is to tell a “small” lie. But we who want to follow Jesus believe that we should always speak the truth, because lying is sin. If we choose to rather obey what we believe and say No to the temptation to tell a lie, then we “bear our cross” and become disciples of Jesus. This is how we do with all sin, and without this radical attitude we cannot overcome sin and be Jesus' disciples.
Decide if you want to pay the cost to be a disciple
“If you want to build a tower, you first sit down and decide how much it will cost, to see if you have enough money to finish the job. If you don’t, you might lay the foundation, but you would not be able to finish. Then all who would see it would make fun of you, saying, ‘This person began to build but was not able to finish.’” Luke 14:28-30 (NCV).
This is what happens to thousands of Christians. They want to be a Christian, but they don’t want to stop sinning. Someone has maybe begun by saying that he has accepted Christ into his heart and he loves going to Christian revival meetings, but when it comes to his daily life, the people at his workplace notice that he still lies, backbites, steals, etc. Then they say to each other, “He is supposed to be a Christian,” and they make fun of him and have no respect for him.
That man did not think about what it would actually cost to be a disciple and, of course, he had not become a disciple of Jesus Christ.
“If a king is going to fight another king, first he will sit down and plan. He will decide if he and his ten thousand soldiers can defeat the other king who has twenty thousand soldiers. If he can't, then while the other king is still far away, he will send some people to speak to him and ask for peace.” Luke 14:31-32 (NCV).
Christianity is like a war. You have to sit down and decide if your “ten thousand soldiers” can overcome the king who is coming against you with “twenty thousand soldiers”. If you see that you are not able to win, then you send out some people to the enemy to ask for peace. But that type of peace is a horrible peace. Jesus did not come to give this type of peace to His disciples; instead, He decided to pay the cost. Then He fought and overcame sin, Satan, and all the evil spirits and powers.
In the same way, we also have to decide if we are prepared to pay the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. And if we do not give up all that we have, we cannot be His disciples. In Hebrews 10:34 (NLT) it is written, “ … when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.”
We can “come” to Jesus to get rid of the burden of sin, and it actually feels good when this burden is lifted. But to be a disciple, much more is needed. Then we have to give up all that we have. That does not mean that we should give away everything we have, but it means that we are willing to do whatever the Spirit asks us to do with the things we have.
When we have thought about the cost and decided that it is possible to do whatever Jesus asks of us, then we are truly disciples of Jesus Christ.