Summary: What does it really mean to be a disciple?
Discipleship – The Sacrifice of Self
Luke 14:25 – 35
Out west, there is a park called the Bridger Wilderness Area. This is a place that lives true to its name. The only shelters you will find are the tents that people bring in with them. The only restrooms you will find resemble bushes and shrubs. This wooded and mountainous terrain is truly one of the few wilderness areas left in the United States.
Now, you would expect from the name that you probably would not have many amenities there. After all, it is a wilderness area, so you probably would not want to go there if you could not hack the outdoors. Yet, every year, the staff at Bridger receives comment cards complaining of the poor conditions of the area. Here are a few samples.
• Please reconstruct the trails and avoid building trails that go uphill.
• There are too many bugs, leeches, spiders, and spider webs. Please spray the area more thoroughly to rid the area of these pests.
• Please pave the trails. Also, chair lifts need to be installed in some places so that we can get those wonderful views without having to hike them.
• The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.
• A small deer came into camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call.
• Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.
• Putting a restaurant such as McDonald’s on the trailhead would be nice.
• There are way too many rocks on the mountain. Please remove them.
I think it is safe to say that these people did not know what they were getting into when they signed up to go to a wilderness area. They were looking for something convenient and comfortable without much work, so it is understandable that they were upset when the hardships showed up. Even though they knew they were going into a rough area, they were not prepared for what laid ahead of them because they did not truly know what a wilderness area was like.
In the same way, people have a misunderstanding of what it means to be a Christian. After all, all you need to do is come to church, read the Bible every once in awhile, and say a few prayers and then everything will be rosy all of the time. We think that after we are saved, God should take away all the pain and hardships. After all, we have done what is required of us. Then, as we start on the road to maturity, something happens that is contrary to this plan, and we begin to complain. “God, this isn’t what I signed up for. Shouldn’t things be easy now?”
Well, just like these people were mistaken about what a real wilderness area was all about, I believe that many of us did not know what we were signing up for when we accepted Christ as Savior. When we became a Christians, we were telling God that we would train to be one of His disciples. We were telling God that we would follow his leading through his teaching and put it into practice no matter what the cost. In our passage this morning, the Bible says that there is great cost in becoming a disciple. Let’s look into His word in Luke 14:25-35.
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying ‘this fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you that does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears let him hear.”