Summary: What does it take to be a "true disciple" of our Lord?
A True Disciple
* Were I to ask this group of people, “Who wants to be a disciple of Christ?” Most everyone would raise their hands and honestly, would do so without giving any thought to what being a disciple really means. One of the classic books on discipleship was written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and is entitled, “The Cost of Discipleship.” Bonhoeffer knew firsthand what was required to be a true disciple of Christ and in the book stressed the cost and content of intentional obedience to Jesus. Ultimately he died an unusually brutal hanging and death at the hands of the Nazis because of his discipleship.
* Today in America, where we enjoy freedom, opportunity, and liberty, a new concept seems to exist. This concept can be defined in two words, “simple and easy.” In cooking, we can microwave. In communication we enjoy multiple options of instant communication. In automobiles a key is no longer needed, just press a button. In our minds, all things are “S & E.”
* Yet, when we take an honest look, we know better. In our vocations we know that to rise to the top takes hard work. We go to school to get prepared, apply ourselves to become the best in our field, and we let little get in the way. Any successful person will tell you that nothing of worth comes by a “simple and easy” method. This is true in all areas of life.
* Yet, absent any persecutions or serious challenges to our faith, the consensus in America has become that it’s easy to be a disciple of Christ.
* It is also in this pattern of thinking that “church members” expect “Christianity” and “Church” to be both simple and easy? And it is neither. Jesus never said it would be simple or easy. The call of Christ is not a call to “ease and comfort”, but rather, a call to mission, maturity, ministry and to make disciples. It is a call to commitment, consistency, and character. It is a call to “make disciples of all nations.” Don’t miss this; “For us to “make disciples” we must “be disciples.” A disciple is one who “learns & follows” as well as “one who adheres to the disciplines of another.”
* Are we “true disciples of Christ?” Do really want to be disciples? If so, what does that really mean? The Bible passage (Luke 9:23) of today speaks to the issue of what being a true disciple really means. (READ)
* Recently, I read about a graduation ceremony speech which was rather disturbing. The speaker was the valedictorian of his high school class. He stood up to the podium and he thanked his father, which sounded good,
at least at first? “My father taught me an important lesson,” the young man said. “He told me throughout my entire life that I am the most important person in the world.” Over and over through his speech, he talked about how true it was that he was the most important person in the world. He looked out at his fellow students and told them, “Don’t ever think that there is anyone more important than you. Do what you want to do, not what other people want. Your happiness is all that matters.” When I read this, I was saddened as I thought about how this mindset has not only changed the dynamic of our culture, but the mindset of our churches.
* It is this kind of mindset which allowed Timothy McVeigh to think of himself first, and on his own decided that he had the right to plant a bomb at a government building in Oklahoma City. Through that effort he took the lives of so many people, including a number of children whom McVeigh callously described as “collateral damage.” He died self-centered and self absorbed and never showed any remorse at all. His last statement was a hand written note that included words from the 1875 poem ’’Invictus,’’ which concludes with the lines: ’’I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.’’ McVeigh was a disciple of selfishness and evil.
* I submit that anything less than complete, total, and unswerving allegiance, does not constitute a “disciple.” The attitude of a disciple resembles that of an apprentice, who learns by doing. From our text, let me offer 4 words or better said, 4 concepts which are a must to be a true disciple of Christ.”
1) FOCUS - Jesus begins His words with the conditional phrase, “IF”. The word “if’ denotes that we actually have a choice in the matter. This is still amazing to me. God allowed His son to die for me and then give me a choice. What an amazing God! Seems to me we are given the ability to become what we desire. If we desire to become a disciple, we can. If we desire to become a reprobate, although we do it over His dead body, He allows us to do it. If we chose to become self-centered, selfish, self-absorbed, He allows it. Certainly, He desires something better in mind for us, but just like He allowed Adam and Eve the free choice of the fruit over immortality, He still allows is to choose. Here’s the payoff, “Generally, we become what we are focused on.” I say “generally” because this does not always hold true. If it was always true that we become what we focus on, then teenage boys would become teenage girls.