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.