Summary: A look at what being a disciple of Christ really involves.
What Discipleship Involves
Leadership magazine once ran a cartoon that showed a church building with a billboard in front that said: "The LITE CHURCH: 24% fewer commitments, home of the 7.5% tithe, 15 minute sermons, 45 minute worship service; we have only 8 commandments—your choice.
When I first saw the cartoon, I did what most folks probably did.........I laughed about it. But the more I thought about that cartoon, the more I begin to realize that far too many folks have that kind of relationship with the Lord.
Let me throw out some words which define most people’s relationship with God, and with the church.
1. Casual defines alot of people who profess to be Christians.
The word "casual" means occasional.......coming at certain times, without regularity, in distinction from stated, or regular;
The antonym for "casual" or the opposite is "committed".
Would you describe your relationship with Christ as casual or committed ?
2. Convenience defines alot of people who profess to be Christians.
Washington DC on Palm Sunday this year. The city had scheduled a marathon on Palm Sunday, which greatly interfered with normal traffic. The leaders of various churches were upset and made their feelings known in local papers. Many churches reported attendance down 50-70 % on that day. Why, was it not possible to get to church on that day? No, but the race did delay traffic about 15-30 minutes and many regular church attendees were by their own admission unwilling to take the extra time and fight the traffic to get to church.
The faith of many is driven by convenience, and fails when it is challenged !
3. Comfort defines alot of people who profess to be Christians.
We want to meet in air conditioned building in the summer, and heated bldg in the winter, and we want to hear sermons that make us feel good, and God forbid if we should ever be made to feel uncomfortable or asked to do something that we’re not comfortable with doing !
4. Cost free defines alot of people who profess to be Christians.
I’ll be glad to participate as long as it doesn’t cost me anything.
British evangelist Gypsy Smith described 4 classes of Christians:
1. Ankle-deep. Come to church once a week, period.
2. Up to their knees. Sunday School, church, evening service. Pews warm.
3. Up to their waists. (Loins) Morally strong for Christ.
4. Up to their necks. Small minority. They live to serve Christ. Lives are above reproach. They are "doers."
I want you to understand this morning that the attitude, and actions of most people who profess to be Christians is in stark constrast to what Christ teaches !
This morning I want us to look at what Christ expects of his followers..........at what is involved in discipleship !
*Interesting note-269 times in the N.T. the word disciple is used...........3 times the word "Christian" is used ! Approx 15 years after the day of Pentecost before the term Christians was coined.
Acts 11:26 ......."And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."
I. Discipleship Involves Learning.
Matt 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
The word "disciple" itself means "learner" or "pupil".
It always means the pupil in constrast to the master or teacher.
How much do we know about Christ ? How knowledgeable are we about his word ?
How can we possibly call ourself disciples if we do not know his teachings, and or not following them ?
II. Discipleship Involves Leaving.
And when he called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
During the ministry of Christ, there was a large crowd that travelled with him whereever he went. Many were just along for the ride. They listened to Christ, they watched him, they talked about him, but they were not disciples. He wanted to make it clear to them what discipleship involves !
Christ says..........if we are to follow him........if we are to be his disciples, we must deny ourselves.
The instructions of Christ do not sit well with the idealogy of our day !
Our society knows little about self-denial ! And it shows............It shows in our waist-lines........shows in our debts...............if we see it and want it, we get it ! If we don’t have the money, we charge it ! If we can’t afford it, we get it anyway !
Many years ago, a new missionary arrived in S. Korea to replace a missionary who was retiring. As the retiring missionary drove the new missionary around showing him the area of his ministry, they came upon two Koreans farming. The new missionary was shocked to see one of the men pulling the plow while the other man held the plow. Those men need a mule said the new missionary. They had a mule was the reply of the older missionary, but they solid it, and gave the money to the Lord’s work !