Summary: Self-Denial, Cross-bearing and Obedience are the central elements of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
At this time of year, most people have completed their holidays and are back focusing on work. Were your holiday’s what you expected?
The following are actual responses from comment cards given to the staff members at Bridger Wilderness Area in NW Wyoming.
-Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.
-Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the areas of these pests.
-Please pave the trails…Chair lifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them.
-The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.
-A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call…
-Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.
-Too many rocks in the mountains.
Citation: Mike Neifert, Light and Life (February 1997), p. 27
These comments and complaints indicate that the people who made them did not really understand what it means to stay in a "wilderness area." They were looking for something convenient and comfortable, but not truly a wilderness experience. In a similar way, many people today do not understand what it means to be a genuine Christian, a true disciple of Jesus Christ. There are multitudes that often follow Jesus or claim to be a Christian but they do so on their terms and not his. They do not truly comprehend the biblical definition of discipleship.
Please turn to Luke 14
The High Calling of Christ is rooted in Christian discipleship. This presupposes one is born again, repented of sin, believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and is abiding in Him. The term "disciples" occurs 269 times in the New Testament, while the term "Christian" only occurs 3 times. In the Book of Acts we’re told that:
Acts 11:26b in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. (ESV)
Lk 14:25-26 shows the background of who Christ was addressing in Mt. 14. Jesus elaborated on being a disciple:
Luke 14:25-35 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, "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. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Jesus was not talking to those who were antagonistic towards him or to those who were uninterested in his life and message. No, these were people who were "traveling with the Jesus." There are positive in their attitude toward Jesus. They were interested in what he had to say. They apparently mistook this positive attitude and interest in Jesus for true discipleship, as many people do today. They considered themselves to be followers of Jesus but in reality they were only casual followers and not committed followers.
They were willing and even anxious to follow Jesus providing the cost was not to high or the demands too great. They were like many people today who do "Christian things" like go to church, pray, sing Christian songs, etc. but are not really committed to Jesus. In a sense they were “along for the ride” but were unwilling to give up everything in their lives that conflicted with following Jesus in a committed way. They were like many today who look to Jesus to solve their money problems, relationship problems, health problems, etc. but who quickly grow disillusioned and unwilling to obey Jesus completely when following Jesus doesn’t solve these problems or following Jesus requires real sacrifices in their lives. These "large crowds" were casual followers and not committed followers, which are you?
In verse 26 Jesus says that this commitment level applies to "anyone who comes to me. . ." In other words, Jesus is not speaking exclusively to a special group of Christians such as apostles, evangelists, missionaries, pastors, or even mature believers. He is saying that this principle applies to everyone who would be one of his followers.
Jesus goes on to say, "Anyone who comes to me and does not hate his father, mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters,-yes, even his own life cannot be my disciple." Now the word "hate" here is not meant to be taken literally but is rather used figuratively to express a point. It is hyperbole or exaggeration similar to what we use when we say, "That man was as big as a house. . ." In Jewish culture the word "hate" was used to express lesser love, so Jesus is saying that we must love him much more that we love our closest family relationships or even our own lives. We must love him more than our hobbies, more than our goals in life, more than our careers, and more that our self interest.