Summary: We all struggle to be better, to improve, etc. But struggling in becoming a disciple is a product of pride. The sooner we understand this, the sooner we can make struggle an asset rather than a liability.
Where are we today? I mean by that, in our study about the Christ and His Church, are we making progress? Are we moving toward Christ or are we satisfied to stay back, keeping our distance? Are we unsure we are willing to make the kind of commitment Jesus Christ wants of us? It is easy to be a church member. It is not so easy to be a disciple. Remember this, secular churches are full of church members; the church of the Christ is made up of disciples. And remember this as well, Christ is not interested in growing a secular church, but is totally committed to growing a group of disciples, which is His church.
By way of review, let us discern the functional definition of the church of the Christ. The church being built by Christ is comprised, first, of people who have surrendered to the divinity and sovereignty, to the power and authority of Jesus Christ. And second, it is comprised of people who have connected to Christ for their strength to live holy lives of service to Him. Please understand there is a major difference between membership to a church and discipleship to the Christ. Secular churches make membership as struggle-free as possible. Discipleship is filled with struggle and the disciples within a church of the Christ understand its purpose. Without struggle, growth does not take place.
Part Three: Understand Your Struggle With Christ
Do you remember what John the Baptist said of himself, “Christ must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30). Intentionally denying one’s self so that another is exalted runs counter to the post-modern culture we exist within. The early disciples struggled with the same things with which we struggle. The main struggle they had and we have today is the struggle of camouflaged pride.
Camouflaged pride is pride that doesn’t feel like nor look like pride, but is pride none the less.
An event in the disciples lives illustrates this struggle of camouflaged pride. Once we have understood this event, let us make sure that we:
Pull in the Oars on Pride
This event is given to us by Mark in the gospel.
Jesus quickly made his disciples get into a boat and cross to Bethsaida ahead of him while he sent the people away. After saying goodbye to them, he went up a mountain to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and he was alone on the land. Jesus saw that they were in a lot of trouble as they rowed, because they were going against the wind. Between three and six o’clock in the morning, he came to them. He was walking on the sea. He wanted to pass by them. When they saw him walking on the sea, they thought, “It’s a ghost!” and they began to scream. All of them saw him and were terrified. Immediately, he said, “Calm down! It’s me. Don’t be afraid!” He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped blowing. The disciples were astounded. (They didn’t understand what had happened with the loaves of bread. Instead, their minds were closed.) (Mark 6:45-52, God’s Word)
Verse 52 is the key verse of this event. For they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened. (Mark 6:52, NASB).
Jesus compelled them to get into the boat, strain at the oars all night, while He walked on the sea to the other side. He wanted them to come to have insight about what they failed to do. They failed to feed the 5000, and they did not even know why?
Remember that event. When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and it is already quite late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” (Mark 6:35-37, NASB)
It is easy to identify with the disciples. We feed about 30 people on Wednesday nights, it cost on average sixty dollars. Let’s see, 5000 men, 4000 wives, 8000 children; WOW! That is a lot of people to feed. 17,000 divided by 30 times 60 equals $34,000. Well now, that’s more than a years wages for most people. Who in their right mind would do such a thing? I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I do not have that kind of resources. I wonder if the results of feeding all those people would really be beneficial to my plan.
I couldn’t, I wanted, I do not, I wonder, my plan. Their response uncovered their camouflaged pride. It didn’t feel like pride to them. It didn’t look like pride either. But it was pride never the less.