Summary: A call to true discipleship
WILL YOU FOLLOW?
(A call to true discipleship)
"Then he said unto them, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23)
During any church service in any average congregation, if the pastor were to ask for all those who believe themselves to be disciples of Jesus Christ to identify themselves, I believe the vast majority would raise their hands, stand to their feet or give some other indication that they were indeed true disciples.
Without giving a second thought to the requirements Jesus sets forth for discipleship, the average church member, regardless of their lifestyle, would be insulted if you challenged their walk with the Lord.
As I began studying the opening verse, the Holy Spirit began challenging my understanding of what an acceptable relationship with Jesus was all about. For most of us in ministry, in our attempts to be continually doing for the Lord, sometimes it is easy for us to get side tracked. If not corrected, we can easily come to a place were we expect Jesus to follow us and bless what we are doing in His name, but without His leadership.
As we look at three basic requirements for discipleship, I believe we may very well come to the conclusion that the straight gate and the narrow way are a lot straighter and much more narrow than we had thought them to be. So without our paying the price of complete surrender to the leadership and will of Christ, we could possibly find ourselves as the disciples mentioned in John 6: 66. "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him."
The word disciple could best be defined as a student. But, in the case of many of today’s church members they are, "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:7) They are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth, because they are not willing to conform their lives to the truth they have learned.
In this age of Word of Faith, Prosperity, Church Marketing and being Purpose Driven, one of the most difficult spiritual accomplishments could very well be self denial.
With today’s postmodern gospel of easy believeism, our salvation is based on; just repeat this prayer, believe it in your heart and your eternity is settled, with or without denying self.
Another popular gospel revolves around the promotion and marketing of individual believers, a ministry or a church rather than lifting up the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the declaration of His uncompromised Word.
We find it right here in the opening verse. If we are going to be identified as a disciple we must accomplish a life of total self denial.
This is not necessarily difficult to understand. To deny means to refuse. Self is best defined as an individual’s own welfare, interests, advancement and agenda. So, we must refuse to fulfill our own personal agenda, our own interests, even consider our own welfare. We also must refuse to manipulate the things and the people around us to our own advantage. We can no longer be consumed with fulfilling our own goals.
Jesus desires to reveal to us the Father’s will. His entire ministry was based on the premise that He had come to this earth for no other reason than doing the will of the Father. He expects nothing less from us.
The difficulty in self-denial is in part due to the fact the average minister will not preach it. Instead we are captivated by sermons about Purpose, Destiny and New Levels.
We wait in a pseudo-spiritual anticipation for the religious gurus to give us a new revelation of what God really meant when He said such and such.
These type of gospels cater only to our flesh and our sense of personal accomplishment. It panders to the lust of the I am, the I will, and the I want, which is in direct contradiction to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When we become consumed with "I", (all the things I want to do for God) it becomes impossible or at least extremely difficult for Jesus to accomplish anything through our own efforts for the glory of the Father.
The entire seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel records the prayer of Jesus for his disciples. It is interesting to note that six times during His prayer, He petitions the Father that we might become one with Him as He is one with the Father.
The Ecumenicists within the church believe this prayer was Jesus’ desire to unite all Christendom into one unified organization. However, I believe His prayer was far more important to the individual believer than to be a part a religious organization. It is His prayer, His desire, His heart’s cry for us to become a physical, emotional and spiritual conduit of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Listen to Jesus’ heart as He prays.