The Radical Cost of Carrying Your Cross
"If you do not carry your own cross and follow me you cannot be My disciple" Luke 14: 27.
Jesus was obedient to His Father, even to the point of death on a cross. He taught that a servant is not above His Master. Jesus knew that if He, the Master and Lord, would be required to die, then His disciples had to understand the cost of following Him.
Luke tells us that a large crowd was following Jesus and He said to them that if they did not love Him more than fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and indeed their own life, they could not be a disciple. In comparison to how we are to love Jesus all other relationships will be secondary. This is radical commitment. In Galatians 2:20 the Apostle Paul puts it this way. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." This is what Jesus requires of us.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a Lutheran Pastor who was executed in a German prison for standing against Nazism. Bonhoeffer wrote an amazing book called the Cost of Discipleship. He maintained that the church had died on the poison of what he called "cheap grace." This grace was cheap because it cost the believer nothing. He was shocked that so much of church was defining faith as an ascent to a set of propositional truths that required no measure of obedience from its adherents. Faith is only real in obedience said Bonhoeffer. He was quoted as saying that a "Christianity without discipleship is a Christianity without Christ” (Cost of Discipleship, NY: Macmillan; pg 67).
It has been said that early Christians who were martyred for their faith were prepared to do so because they had already died to this world. Is this too radical in our 21st century world? I don’t think so. True Christianity understands that if we do not really die to self we cannot ever really live for Christ. As the disciple dies to self, Christ sets him free to live.
Are we alive or dead? Listen to how Christ puts it in Luke 9:23 - 25: "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily (obedience) and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? ”
God bless us as we consider the cost of discipleship,