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Can You Be a Disciple?by Duane Mabee on April 28, 2021
What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? Does it just mean to come to a building once or multiple times a week and listen to someone teach the Bible?
In his book, Spiritual Discipleship, J. Oswald Sanders points us to Luke 14:25-33. Jesus was at the height of His popularity. People wanted Him to take over the government and be their king. Large crowds followed Him wherever He went. They expected Him to capitalize on His popularity and ride the tidal wave to power, but He didn’t. Instead, He drastically thinned the ranks by talking about the cost of being His disciple.
Jesus gave three conditions for being His disciple, and with each condition He asserted, “if you don’t do this, you cannot be My disciple”.
You cannot be Christ’s disciple if you do not love Him more than everyone else. Jesus put this in extraordinarily strong terms – terms that make us squirm. “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple,” 14:26 ESV. Jesus used the word “hate” to get our attention. We must love Jesus so much more than anyone else in our lives – including ourselves – that if it comes to a contest between Him and the other person, that person will believe we must hate them. He commands us to love other people, but if we love them more than we love Him, we cannot be His disciple.
You cannot be Christ’s disciple if you refuse to take up your cross and follow Him, 14:27. If we are not willing to suffer for Christ and for being a Christian, we cannot be His disciples. That’s a hard statement. We want Christianity to be about our comfort and entertainment. We want Christianity to be about us. But Jesus said if we are not willing to ditch our pride and self-centeredness, our reputation and comfort, and suffer with and for Him, we cannot be His disciples.
You cannot be Christ’s disciple if you refuse to surrender everything to Him. We are consummate consumers. We have it all and want even more. But God said, “you shall have no other gods beside Me.” We don’t consider our possessions gods, but they are if we are not willing to renounce them for the sake of Christ.
Predictably, this teaching dramatically thinned the ranks of those who followed Jesus. That was what He intended. They won’t have the same impact on us, though, because we will not take Him seriously. We assume He only meant this in some mystical way that has no real impact on us, but Jesus was serious. To follow Jesus, means to surrender everything to His control. To be a Christian means to give Christ first place in every way. So, the question we must wrestle with is, “Can I be a disciple and continue to live the way I am”?