Two flight attendants were called into the cockpit of a small passenger jet. The captain told them that the jet would soon crash and they needed to hand out parachutes, but do so in an orderly manner. The first flight attendant gave the parachute to their first passenger and explained that it was meant to enhance their flight. The second told their passenger that the plane was going to crash and this would save their life. The first passenger put on his parachute but because it was uncomfortable soon took it off. The second passenger quickly put his on and checked and double checked that it was secure. One saw the parachute as optional; the other saw their parachute as essential.
Many people who profess to follow Jesus don’t appear to take it seriously. They are casual Christians rather than committed Christians.
Jesus challenges this thinking. Though salvation is open to all who will come by faith, discipleship is for those willing to pay a price. Salvation means coming to the cross and trusting Jesus, while discipleship means carrying your own cross and following Jesus. Following Jesus is simple; It’s discipleship that is hard.
Jesus challenges His followers in three areas:
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:25-27)
In light of full New Testament teaching, Jesus was not demanding an unqualified hatred. He could not command us to “Honor your father and mother” (Mark 7:9-13) and demand that we hate them. What Jesus was saying is that our love for Him must be so great and so pervasive that our natural love for family pales in comparison. He is to be our first loyalty. All other relationships must take second place.
A relationship with Jesus is far above all relationships.
Too often faith is treated like a big buffet. We take as much of what we like and want but leave behind what we do not like, what’s too hard to swallow, what we disagree with, or what does not fit our personal opinions and beliefs. That’s not how the gospels portray Jesus or the life of discipleship. It is all or nothing. Like marriage, it is an exclusive relationship.
The paradox is that the proper way to love your family is to love God more. This will enable us to love them with a greater love.
I challenge you to acknowledge that your love for God has no competition. In fact, your love for God helps you love others the way you should.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. (Luke 14:28-32)
Jesus illustrates the cost of being a disciple with two illustrations. Discipleship is like starting a building project. You must budget for it and see if you can finish it. We must consider the expense. Discipleship is like going to war. You must consider the hazard of it and the difficulties you will encounter. You must determine if the war is winnable.
Count the cost of following Jesus.
A dairy farmer went to buy a new pickup truck. He saw the ad in the paper and decided to trade-in for a new model. But when the salesman gave him a higher price, he explained, “The price in the paper is for the basic model, all the options cost extra.” He reluctantly wrote a check and drove off in his new pick-up. A few months later the salesman called the farmer to buy a cow for his son’s 4-H project. The farmer said his cows are $500. Once the cow was chosen the farmer continued, “I need to give you the final cost” Basic Cow: $500, two-tone exterior – $45, extra stomach – $75, milk storage compartment – $60, straw recycle compartment – $120, four handy spigots @ $10 each – $40, leather upholstery – $125, dual horns – $45, automatic rear fly swatter – $38, natural fertilizer attachment – $185, Grand Total: $1233. Whether buying cars, cows, or following Jesus, it’s important to know the actual cost.
What will it cost you to be a true disciple? It will cost the death of our favorite sins. It will cost a life of saying no to yourself. It will cost a constant course of faithful duties. It may cost your reputation, your property, and your freedom. It may even cost you your life.
Discipleship May cost you dearly. But the benefit will make it all worthwhile.
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Luke 14:33-35)
We cannot be a disciple if we do not forsake and surrender all we have to Jesus. If we don’t live a disciplined life as a disciple, we are like saltless salt. Technically, salt cannot lose its saltiness. But it can be diluted and men “cast it out.” Uncommitted Christians become good for nothing to God and others.
Be prepared to surrender everything to follow Jesus.
A father was skeptical of his son’s newfound desire to build bulging muscles. He followed his boy into a store’s sporting goods department where they admitted a set of weights. “Please, dad,” he pleaded. “I promise I’ll use them every day.” “I don’t know. It’s really a commitment on your part,” the father said. “Please, dad”? “They are not cheap.” “I’ll use them. I promise. You’ll see.” Finally won over, the dad paid for the equipment and started for the door. After a few minutes, he heard, “What! You mean I have to carry them to the car?”
No one perfectly keeps his commitments to Jesus. There are times when commitments falter due to family pressures, selfishness, the allure of material possessions, or persecution. Moments of failure do not invalidate the direction of the heart.
You may never have to give up much to be a disciple. But being prepared to do so is the sign that you understand the seriousness of the call to follow Jesus. Any of us, at any time, might be summoned to give up everything quite literally and respond to a new emergency situation to follow Jesus.
As a Christian, you will never lose your soul; but you can lose your money, your family, your testimony, your joy, your assurance, your inheritance, your rewards, your health, and your life. You must count the cost of following Jesus. But you must also count the cost of not following Him too.
- You must put me before your family.
- You must consider what it will cost you to follow Me.
- You must be willing to lose anything to gain everything.
When Pearl Harbor was bombed, one of the Americans who volunteered to serve his county was Bob Feller. Bob was a 23 year old pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. He had already pitched a no-hitter and won 107 games in the MV). He gave the peak of his athletic years to his country. When he returned to baseball, he threw 3 more no-hitters, 12 one-hitters, and won 266 games. He probably could have won another 80-100 games. When fans voted for the All-Century Team in 1999, Bob was ignored in favor of two other pitchers. Some suggest he was the most underrated baseball player of all time. Feller was once asked if he regretted his wartime service. “No,” he said. “I’ve made many mistakes in my life. That wasn’t one of them.”
You may make many mistakes in your life. Living as a true discipleship won’t be one of them.