Called to Die
Promise Keeper’s November 2006 … 6,000 men rocked the Hershey Centre in Mississauga with gut-wrenching worship and passionate desire that God would rush in and baptize us. Speaker after speaker stood with power and pizzazz as the audience remained riveted to every word.
It was K.P. Yohannan’s turn. K.P. is the founder and President of the Gospel for Asia. He quietly approached the podium, dressed in a suit that appeared a little too big for him. A small, thin man, he opened his Bible and with a soft voice brought the audience to a total hush, almost as if he threw a boxing blow and for a moment dazed us, when his opening words were, "You are called to die."
That charge has been ringing in my ears many times for nearly three years.
Text – a call to discipleship. Problem:
- Dallas Willard, Philosophy professor, author and speaker was quoted as saying, “For at least several decades the churches of the Western world have not made discipleship a condition of being a Christian. One is not required to be, or to intend to be, a disciple in order to become a Christian, or one may remain a Christian without any sign of progress toward or in discipleship…So far as the visible Christian instititutions of our day are concerned, discipleship clearly is optional.”
- The call to discipleship is a call to die – we have little appetite for it.
1. Understanding Discipleship
Commentator William Barclay told a story of a person chatting with a great scholar about a younger man. He said, “So and so tells me that he was one of your students.” The teacher answered, “He may have attended my lectures but he was not a student of mine.”
Reginald Bibby (Canadian survey guru) defines discipleship as “activity that guides individuals to become spiritually mature zealots of Christ who then reproduce equally passionate and mature followers of Christ.”
Scripture solidifies these thoughts as Jesus defines discipleship – Compare Luke 14:25 with verse 33 …
“Going along” versus “give up all” – huge gap!...
- Annual Festival in Pamplona, Spain – infamous Bull Run, July 7-14 in honor of the patron saint, San Fermin.
- Rockets signal the release of the bulls in the narrow cobblestone streets, laced with high buildings on other side. One way out, the ½ mile run away from the bulls!
- If I were there, I’d be looking on from the window above the street as one “going along”. I definitely would not “give up all” putting my life on the line for the thrill of the run!
Discipleship a call to put everything on the line…
Dan Yarnell wrote an article called The Spirit says ‘yes’: exploring the essence of being church in the 21st Century. His thoughts on “holistic discipleship” are powerful, even rebuking. “We are beginning to realise the failings of the church in the West to follow Jesus’ primary commission to make disciples. Instead, we have primiarly invested our time and efforts in encouraging and producing converts, church-goers, or even a culture of being ‘churched’ without an ongoing living, obedient relationship with God.”
- Similar to the scene of Luke 14:25 .. times haven’t changed
- Different motives … family / friends there; some because of the character of Jesus and liked what he stood for and what he didn’t’ represent (organized religion); curious; measured risk (if he’s Messiah it’ll pay off to be associated with him)
- NOTE: every motivation is driven by something to be gained or existing, not because they were ready to embrace his message, methods and motivation.
2. Jesus’ Terms for Discipleship
- Jesus pushes for commitment. He doesn’t want personally driven agendas following him.
- QUOTE: “The multitudes were taking discipleship very easily; He will drive them away rather than have them on such terms; He will make them see, by any forcefulness of expression, that discipleship is supremely difficult. And so He declares His terms.”
- He starts weeding …
- First relationships
- Pushes to personal discomfort and control
Look at these in detail …
“Hate” is the response to priority of relationships and life
Luke 14:26 …
- Not to read this literally as we’re to hate our closest, dearest relationships and treasured life realities. God’s message one of love …
- From the Greek (mis-eh’-o) miseō meaning “to detest” or “to love less”.
- One writer offers that while we cannot love “any human being too much we may love the Divine Lord too little.” Discipleship does involves loving God more.
“Carry” – represents priority of choosing what comes with choosing Him
Luke 14:27 …
- Is not enduring persecution; is not related to the problems we face in life; it is not bearing the burdens for other people. The word “carry” is a symbol of choosing death to self interest
- Mark 13:13 – And everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me. Knowing this we bas-tad’-zo (endure, declare, sustain, receive) the outcome of our allegiance to him. We say with Paul Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
- Personal choice … note pronouns “I” and “me”
“Calculate the cost” – represents awareness of the choice made
Know the cost before saying yes
Clive Staples (CS) Lewis – scholarly Christian writer of the 20th century illustrates why we count the cost. He tells how when he had a toothache he knew he could go to his mother and she would give him aspirin to deaden the pain. He’d drive this option out as long as he could because he knew his mother wouldn’t stop there. The next day would involve a dentist visit and the dentist would start fiddling around and poking through his mouth, no only fixing the aching tooth but proposing all sorts of other things for his other teeth.
Lewis then makes the application this way. “If you give the Lord an inch he’ll take an ell (English expression similar to our “give him an inch he’ll take a foot.”) Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of one particular sin…He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked: but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment.”
- Be careful what you pray for, you just might get it.
- Matthew 19:16-22 … Man zealous for religion and the commandments
- “What must I do” (verse 16) … many believe they can do something … not relationship
- “Sell all you have and follow me” (verse 21) … walked sadly away because he had “many possessions”
- What is your “sell all you have”? What would be the ultimate test for you?
You are called to die
Imagine if the rich man heard “Sell all you have and inherit all I will give you” and then realizing the divine nature of Jesus and his Kingdom that he would inherit! Do you think he would have hesitated?
Our problem: we focus on what we have or want rather than what we gain by giving up – Matthew 10:39 “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it.”
Luke 14:33 … Summary of everything he’s saying
- Is Jesus saying we must go out and sell everything we own today? No. He is asking if we’d do it if need be.
- We are to understand that anything that takes priority over Christ and the will of the Father is to love Him less than we should and disqualifies us as disciples – verses 34-35 …
- Matthew 5:13, “you are the salt of the earth.” Speaking to followers, to disciples. Salt is no good if it doesn’t penetrate and give flavour. We lose our flavour when we live according to the spirit of the world we live in.
(If my science is incorrect I’ll fix it next time.) -- Things like table salt which are not pure chemical compounds break down sodium chloride so that a thing can look like salt but have no saltiness compounds. If you sprinkled table salt on your meal but it lacked salty compound, you would keep shaking the salt trying to get flavour to the meal but it won’t ever add flavour when the salty compound is broken down and removed. Jesus shows us in this verse that sprinkling salt that is not salty is worse than not having salt at all. It’s only good for the garbage and we’d throw it out and get some new.
Here’s the stinging, almost difficult-to-swallow message Jesus leaves us. The disciple of Jesus who is a disciple in name only and failing in example is, as one writer states, “worse than useless, he is contemptible [disgraceful, despicable, or shameful].”
This is what the world rejects in organized religion though it does not know what it rejects.
- This year when Stephen Harper (PM) attended funeral for former Governor General Romeo Leblanc. Accepted communion wafer followed by criticism if he took it; did he wait for everyone before partaking, which is not uncommon for Protestant practice. In a moment when the church could shine she botched it up over rite and ceremony.
- To borrow a theme from a respected Marriage and Counselling Therapist, when we can “be salt” we are more interested to “rub salt”
- The only number-power that matters at KCC is Disciple numbers
- Our strength is determined by those who will stop “going along” and choose instead to “give up all”
- It will have power when we are serious about the responsibility to “Hate”, “Carry” and “Calculate the Cost”
- Revival will result in subtractions long before it results in additions
- Are we up to the invitation to die?