“If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison–our father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, even our own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” -Jesus (Luke 14:26-27 NLT)
In our “Jesus is only love” society, this is a hard pill to swallow, no? A difficult teaching to understand from a God/man who has been painted as a “we are the world”, hippie type. But let’s not forget that Jesus is God. He is man. He is the word. He is just. And He is love.
Because of His great love for us, Jesus came to earth to establish a kingdom where he will reign forever. Jesus graciously forgives and brings all who believe in Him and dedicate their lives to Him into His kingdom. This is where a disciple’s walk behind and towards Jesus begins. Imagine God’s kingdom as a circle. When we, as Jesus’s disciples, first step into the Kingdom of God, we are are on the fringe and Jesus sits on a throne in the center. Each day that we follow Jesus, study his word, and live by his teachings, the love in our hearts for Him and others grows. We begin to take baby steps closer to him. As we grow in faith and in our relationship with Jesus throughout our lives, the blurry image of him at a distance comes into focus, and the light of His glory shines brightly through us. Jesus extends this free gift of grace to all of us, but this grace came at a cost.
The grace that God extends to us through Jesus was not cheap. It cost Jesus his life. It cost Jesus His place in heaven for a time. It cost God his Son.
Grace is costly and we continuously cheapen it.
In the verses following our key verse, Jesus goes on to say that we must count the cost of following Him. Our relationships with our families are important, our lives are important, our jobs are important; but they all pale in comparison to WHO should have the place of ultimate importance in our lives. Before we become disciples of Christ, he asks us to count this cost.
He MUST come BEFORE everything else.
To be a disciple of Jesus, you must choose Christ. If the choice is between your mother and Jesus, you choose Jesus. There is no comparison in the life of a disciple, Jesus is always first.
Like I said, hard pill to swallow, Amen?
What does this look like on a daily basis? How do we count the cost and still choose Jesus over all things. How do we make him preeminent over all things? What does it look like to put Jesus first, for real and not just as advice to graduates and newlyweds?
This month, we will be exploring discipleship. We will be looking at what it truly means to be a disciple of Jesus, to follow him wholeheartedly as Lord of our lives. We will look at some common mistakes that we make, and how His word tells us to follow him. Most of all, we will be encouraging and challenging ourselves to follow him more fully, to more fully count the cost.
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