Summary: Being a disciple of Jesus means more than just attending church twice a week!
The Cost Of Discipleship
"If you thought that living the Christian life is easy, then you haven’t lived it!" (Quotes & Things, by D. Collins).
With A View To Becoming A Christian
There are many people under the illusion that the Christian life is not very different from their current lifestyle. One lady said, "If I become a Christian, it just means I’ll have to start going to church every week." Is this really the only difference between the lifestyle of a sinner and a Christian?
A Rude Awakening
There are some, no doubt,who have been Christians for many years and have never been taught the kind of commitment that Jesus asks of those who want to follow Him. The consequences can be disastrous:
"When a class of twenty four Christian men and women were shown how their lifestyles were not in conformity with Jesus’ teaching, eighteen stopped attending the classes! Of these, ten fell away from the faith. One of the men said, ’I’m sorry, but I thought being a Christian was about attending church and loving one another; I didn’t realise it meant making personal sacrifices.’"
It is essential, then, that we all have clear understanding of what Jesus demands of us if we wish to be one of His disciples.
The Men From The Boys
"There were two brother, Tom and Harry, and they both had a very strong desire to join the British army. They were now eighteen and eligible to enlist, so they went along to the recruitment center. Only Tom actually enlisted. Harry had changed his mind when he discovered that it would mean getting a hair cut, rising at 4 am every morning, etc. He preferred the comforts that civilian life afforded."
Having considered the demands of being a soldier in the British Army, they each made their choice. It is these demands that put their "very strong desire" to the test, or, as the expression goes, "It separated the men from the boys."
As we consider the demands of discipleship in this lesson, our own desire to be a disciple of Jesus will be put to the test, and we will have to make a choice about whom we are going to serve - God or the Devil?
[Note: this lesson assumes that the student has already come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.]
I. The Initial Steps
A. Jesus demands that our love for Him surpass that of our love for all others.
"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:37)
1. It is easy to say and think that we love Jesus more than all others but do we? Perhaps some further elaboration and practical examples will help us decide.
a. In the previous verses Jesus says:
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household" (Matthew 10:34-36)
b. In many cases, becoming a Christian can result in an ongoing conflict with unbelieving relatives, friends, and work colleagues, and there may be occasions when we are tempted to compromise our faith. Here are a couple practical examples:
1) Your unbelieving spouse says, "Hey, it’s a beautiful Sunday morning, let’s take a picnic to the park. It won’t hurt if you miss just one service will it?" Before you make your decision, consider this scripture:
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25)
2) The following example demonstrates, not only an unwillingness to forsake the assembly, but a willingness to die for Jesus if necessary. The account is a little dramatic but, allegedly, true:
"A Christian woman attended worship at her local church every Sunday without fail. However, her unbelieving husband didn’t like it one bit, and he often asked her to stay at home, and sometimes even threatened her. One Sunday morning, the woman got ready to go to services as usual and the husband said, ’Your not going, your staying home today.’ When she insisted that she was going, the husband pulled out a gun, held it to her head and said, ’Where are you going now?’ The wife replied, ’If you pull the trigger, I’m going to heaven. If you don’t, I’m going to church.’"
This woman was willing to die if necessary, and this is the kind of faithfulness that Jesus demands: