The Cost Of True Discipleship
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” — Psalms 139:23-24
Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once stated that “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die,” which made me reflect on the cost of discipleship. It made me realise that if my life as a Christian is too comfortable, then I'm not truly living for Christ. If we're not on fire for the Lord, our faith can become dull, stale and predictable. Yet, in Christ, we should be the most alive. The call to discipleship encourages us to break through the boundaries of what is safe and comfortable and to radically pursue God like never before.
"The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself." — 2 Timothy 2:11-13
As believers, if we are to strive along the path to everlasting life, it means we have to deny ourselves, pick up our Cross and strive against the ways of this world. It’s a strenuous journey that very few are willing to make, yet it’s the only path that will permit you access through the narrow door. The cost of discipleship is knowing that your salvation is on the line and that everything you choose to do on this earth has eternal consequences, so you might as well follow Him with all that you have.
“Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.” — Luke 13:23-24
The original Greek word ‘ἀγωνίζομαι’ meaning ‘to strive', derives from the same word ‘ἀγωνίᾳ’ used to depict Jesus when He was in 'agony' in the garden of Gethsemane. In other words, we must 'agonise' to enter through the narrow door. The cost of true discipleship is a cost that equates to struggle. It's a constant spiritual battle between flesh and spirit that makes the journey tougher. As believers, we're called to crucify our fleshly, worldly desires and be transformed and renewed daily by God's grace.
“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.” — Galatians 3:26-27
Until you realise that giving your life to Christ wholeheartedly is an all or nothing choice, you won’t truly understand that discipleship will cost you everything. True discipleship means being counter-cultural and constantly resisting the temptations of this world.
“Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving in the army gets entangled in everyday affairs; the soldier's aim is to please the enlisting officer. And in the case of an athlete, no one is crowned without competing according to the rules.”— 2 Timothy 2:3-5
The cost of discipleship is knowing that you can be persecuted for being a follower of Christ, but enduring and professing your faith anyways. It consists of not being afraid to speak the truth even if the truth is a hard pill to swallow. It is choosing not to become lukewarm and dilute your faith to fit in with society. It is choosing to love one another with a sacrificial type of love. It's a type of love that requires selflessness, sacrifice, humility, and vulnerability.
"Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." — John 13:35
Yet, many of us compromise our beliefs because they don't align with the trends of the world. We cherry-pick which verses of the Bible we want to follow and as a result, we water down our faith. Sometimes following Jesus means following the things that make no sense. Yet, one thing I realised is that you don't have to understand completely to obey immediately. Just because it seems difficult doesn't mean it's not from God. Whatever God has convicted you to do, don't let any judgment from others keep you from obedience. We aren't called to be comfortable, accepted or understood. We're called to make a difference as His disciples.
“But I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”— Philippians 3:13-14
As believers, we're called to a life of faith, not a life of comfort. If we truly want to receive the heavenly prize, then we will do everything we can, by His grace, to reach that end goal. Yet, unlike most goals that are time-bound, we don’t know the time that God will call us, therefore we must be spiritually alert at all times. The cost of true discipleship is not the easy route, but trust me it will be the most rewarding…
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