Summary: What is the cost of really being a disciple of Jesus? Is discipleship worth the great cost?
“The Cost of Discipleship”
I don’t like to shop one bit, but whenever I do any shopping I want to make sure that the product I buy is worth the cost. Sometimes you have to make decisions. I have learned one thing through my shopping experiences. Cheaper is not always better. I am all for buying cheap. I am all for the generic brands if I can get away with it. Sometimes prices escalate and you pay for the name or for the label. It is often that way with clothes. It amazes me that people today will pay hundreds of dollars for a name on a label of their clothes that is covered up. Often times the less expensive stuff is even better. However, cheaper is not always better. Sometimes you get what you pay for. There have been a few times I have really gone cheap on something. I would buy the cheapest of that product I could find and it didn’t last long or it didn’t work well. When I buy something, I always want to know is it worth the cost.
The same is true of discipleship. Before we can really decide to follow Jesus we have to examine some things. We have to look at the benefits of discipleship and then look at what it will cost us and see if we it is worth the investment. The benefits of discipleship are many. The greatest is the promise of eternity with God in Heaven. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg, there are countless benefits in this life to discipleship. We have the ability to speak to God through prayer, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, a joy that no one can take away, a hope that will never disappoint, a peace that we can never understand, a Father who loves and cares for us, and Christian friends who we can count on and rely upon. The cost? It will cost us everything we have. It will require complete sacrifice.
You probably heard about the hen and the pig who approached a church and read the advertised sermon topic: “What can we do to help the poor?” Immediately the hen suggested they feed them bacon and eggs. The pig thought for a moment and said, “There is only one thing wrong with feeding bacon and eggs to the poor. For you it requires only a contribution, but for me it requires total commitment.”
Discipleship requires total commitment. I would say as I said before that often times you get what you pay for. Many people may want just a casual relationship with God that costs them nothing in this life. You get what you pay for. Many people may want a religion that suffers nothing. Martin Luther said, “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.”
The Scriptures often compare the process of discipleship to that of an athlete in training. Not everyone can be born with the amazing athletic ability that I have. Some of today’s athletes are born with special abilities, but most of their talent is developed. Most people have to train for it. It is amazing the amount of time and energy athletes spend in training and practice in order to get good. In order for an athlete to be really good it usually is going to cost them something. It is usually going to mean a lot of sacrifices. It is going to mean a lot of practice and hard work. It may mean time away from family; it may mean extra time in the gym. Athletes make incredible sacrifices in order to get better and develop their talents and the best of them are usually the hardest working, the ones who make the most sacrifices, the ones most committed to their goal.
There are so many who refuse to make the disciples commitment. Remember there is no distinction between a disciple and a Christian. We are all called to be disciples and not just Christians in name. There were many times that great crowds gathered around Jesus. They loved him, and they wanted to hear him teach. Often times people would come from great distances to get something from him, maybe to be healed. There is a difference between the crowd and the committed. There is a distinction between the crowd and the disciples. When all was said and done the crowds left Jesus, but the disciples stayed. When the crowds turned on Jesus, for the most part the disciples stayed loyal. On one occasion as Jesus was teaching on the bread of Life, the crowds didn’t like what they heard, so they turned and they left Jesus. Then Jesus turned to his twelve disciples and asked them if they planned on leaving him too. Peter spoke up and said, “To who shall we go, you alone have the word of eternal life.” In other words Peter was saying, we are not a part of the crowds, we are a part of the committed, we are in this to stay. The crowds left because they thought the message was too harsh and was expecting too much, they thought they would go hear a rabbi that would teach what they wanted to hear, but the disciples decided to stay and conform to what the Savior taught no matter what it entailed. Yes, the crowds may have loved Jesus, but they were not committed followers of Jesus. Are you a part of the crowd or the committed? I believe we will see together this morning that discipleship is worth the cost.