Dying to Self: The Cost of Discipleship
Dying to self and living under the Lordship of Christ is foundational for Christian discipleship. We can explore these foundational truths by exploring the following;
- The Cost of Discipleship
- Dying To Self
- Whole Life Stewardship
- The Lordship of Jesus Christ
During His public ministry, people came to Jesus with many different motives—physical healing, deliverance, food.
Large crowds followed Jesus wherever He went, and many of them left Jesus as soon as their needs were met.
Every person who came to Jesus was not His disciple.
But during His ministry, Jesus gave an open call and invitation to the crowd, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” – Matthew 16:24. Jesus made it very clear that to be a disciple, one has to make a deliberate decision to deny everything. There was no choice of returning to one’s old life. Even today, we have many believers in our churches but only very few disciples.
At the end of Jesus’ ministry, just before His ascension to heaven, His final commission to His disciples was to go and make disciples.
If making disciples was the final Great Commission Jesus gave, He had to model the way. Indeed, Jesus was in the process of making disciples in the three and a half years of His ministry and, as a result, He commissioned the disciples to go and make disciples as He did.
The whole life and ministry of Jesus was a model for us to become disciples of Jesus as we disciple others.
The price tag—how much does it cost?
We live in a modern world where everything has a price tag. Customers look at the price and decide if they want to buy it or not. Jesus did not want to reduce the high price it cost to become His disciple. Healing, miracles, deliverances from the evil spirit, and feeding of the multitudes all were free miracles; and yet, He made it very clear that to be a disciple would be an expensive decision. He even asked His followers to count the cost before they even began the journey (Luke 14:25-33).
The requirements to be a disciple of Jesus
The following is a small list of requirements needed to become a disciple of Jesus taken from Luke 9:23 and Luke 14:25-33.
- Deny self: Renounce all objects of SELF—self-worth, self-dependence, self-interests, self-pursuits, etc.—that are contrary to God (Mark 8:34; Romans 6:16-23; Romans 8:1-13; Galatians 5:19-24; Colossians 3:1-10).
- Take up the cross daily: Be willing to die for Jesus (Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; Romans 6:11-13; Romans 8:12-13; Colossians 1:23; Colossians 2:6-7; Colossians 3:5-10).
- Follow Christ daily: Obey Him (Luke 9:23; John 10:26-29).
No one can become a disciple of Jesus by accident. That is why we are advised to sit down and estimate the total cost (Luke 14:28) and consider the ability (Luke 14:31) before we even make a decision to start.
The hindrances to being a disciple of Jesus
Let us look at three individuals who failed the basic test of following Jesus (Luke 9:57-62). Each of us will face numerous opportunities to turn back from our call to be a disciple. The three anonymous men in this story permitted something else to come into their lives that kept them from following Jesus (Matthew 8:21-22; 1 Kings 19:20; 2 Timothy 4:10).
The first man said, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Christ’s proposal to follow Him was too difficult for this man because, if one follows Christ, that one may not have a comfortable life and may have to sacrifice a home and shelter in this world. The love of money and the comforts of this present world can be a hindrance to discipleship.
The second man, even though he had a half-mind to follow Christ, gave first priority to his own circumstances and needs. He answered Christ, “Lord let me first go and bury my father” But the Bible says “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” The phrase, “me first,” reflects the negative response toward the conditions of discipleship. How can we become disciples of Jesus if our first preference is something other than Christ?
The third man was like the first man who volunteered to follow Christ, but he resembled the second man in that he used those contradictory words “Lord… my family first….” He wanted to be a disciple of Jesus, but the family was the most important thing in this man’s decision-making. Though his question seems reasonable, Christ looked into his heart and saw that he was not willing to lose his worldly relationships for the sake of discipleship.
These three men failed the basic test of discipleship. There were three various matters that withheld them from following Christ. The love of earthly comfort was the hindrance of the first man, worry about livelihood was the hindrance of the second man, and the priority of family relationship was the hindrance for the third man.
If Jesus Himself did the recruitment today, how many of us would be eligible to meet His requirements and become His disciples?
The rewards of disciple-making
There are costs as well as rewards in this ministry. Jesus warned us in a series of short parables to count the cost first, determine if we were willing, and then go ahead with the ministry of obedience if we were prepared (Luke 14:26-33). The committed disciples do not question the cost and its anticipated rewards (Philippians 3:13-14). True disciples have already settled the issue of the cost of discipleship and are willing to do whatever the Lord wants them to do; this makes it much easier to press forward toward the goal of pleasing Christ as the Apostle Paul did.
But disciple-making is not very easy. It will cost everything—our whole lives (Luke 9:24; 1 Thessalonians 2:8). The last and final reward of making disciples is Christ’s approval, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21-23) There can be no greater reward than hearing the Almighty God, the Sovereign of the universe, saying to you, “Well done!”
Let’s take time to calculate how much it costs us to be disciples of Jesus and make a commitment to be committed disciples of Jesus who will go make disciples until everyone gets an opportunity to choose and follow Jesus Christ.
Global Disciples Canada is a Christian mission organization that trains local leaders living near least-reached communities to multiply disciples for Christ. One-third of our world hasn’t heard the Good News of Jesus. Yet. Global Disciples refers to these as “least-reached” people, and fewer than 10% of all missionaries work among these groups. We live in a time where many of these people are within reach of a local church. Through our simple and effective strategy of training and coaching, believers share the Gospel in their own nations and cultures. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and we’re committed to doing just that. If you are looking for a Christian mission organization to partner with to become a better disciple and help make disciples, connect with us today!
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