The cost of discipleship training
“So don’t go without thinking about what it’s going to cost you.” Because who would build a house before sitting down to estimate the cost to finish it? Otherwise, he might lay the foundation and not be able to finish ”(Luke 14:28, 29, TPT).
For many years, faith has been important to me. However, that was just one of the many things I strive for and invest in. I had career ambitions – I had started a few businesses and loved bringing ideas to the market. I was building a network around me and working on my relationships at the same time. I had so many different responsibilities to take on that I often found myself running around like a headless chicken.
One birthday in my mid-twenties, dad gave me a ceramic coaster with the words “More ideas than time.” I remember being irritated to receive such a gift and annoyed by the message it conveyed because I believed I could do anything.
Soon after, my world changed. While business and everyday life had its usual stress, everything came to a head within a week. I was looking into the barrel of a failed long-term relationship, a business partnership taken to court, and my car completely written off in one of Brisbane’s worst hailstorms.
Up to this point, I had tried to balance everything. Although my faith was important, it was caught in the mix of everything else. As I sat in my hail-shattered car that stormy afternoon trying to deal with this series of devastating events, the lie I had lived for so long was revealed.
I could see now that my father’s comedic gift was right: you can’t do everything.
The endless pursuit of success and happiness today can cost many areas of our lives that are truly supportive of us like rest, time with family, health, etc. There is a cost to our culture’s aspiration to “have it all”.
What is the cost of discipleship training?
That said, the pursuit of the kingdom’s life is no less costly. Following Jesus also comes at a cost, but what exactly does that mean? Jesus often challenged his disciples with hard-to-swallow words, such as, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34, ESV). Ellen White shared this challenge when she said, “Self-denial and the cross are found directly in the path of every disciple of Christ” (Testimonies for the Church, flight. 2, p. 651).
Jesus’ challenge asks every disciple to make a measured commitment: “So do not follow me without thinking about what it will cost you. It was just before that that He said, “If anybody comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes even their own life, such a person cannot be. my disciple ”(Luke 14:26, NIV).
Jesus shares breathtaking statements here. While his words may be an exaggerated figure of speech, he doesn’t shy away from the statement that nothing should be more valuable than Jesus and his kingdom. He does not tolerate real hostility towards our family, but the implication is that following Jesus must be the most important priority in his life, both in word and in deed.
Jesus asked Simon and Andrew to “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19, ESV). They were so touched by this invitation that they immediately left their nets, boats and family belongings and followed him. This is the call that Jesus launches to each of us: to follow him and devote our life to forming others. What is our response?
The cost of the non-disciple
As we consider the cost of following Jesus, a startling truth becomes apparent. “The cost of discipleship is high, but the cost of non-discipleship is even higher” (Dallas Willard, The big omission: recovering the essential teachings of Jesus on discipleship, p. #). Non-discipleship, which can also be described as nominal Christianity, welfare Christianity, moralistic, therapeutic deism, or cultural Christianity, poses a threat to the deep and Spirit-filled life of living at the pace of life. Jesus.
You cannot measure the cost of discipleship unless you have measured the cost of non-discipleship. It has been wisely observed that “you don’t know how much a new car will cost you until you also count how much it will cost you not to buy it”. Dietrich Bonhoeffer made this point in his classic book, The cost of discipleship training, where he also shared: “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Non-discipleship robs us of the abundant life that Jesus promises us. It has been said that “the non-disciple costs a lasting peace, a life filled with love, a faith which sees all in the light of the supreme governance of God for good, a hope which remains firm in the most circumstances. discouraging, the power to do what is right and resist the forces of evil ”(Willard, The spirit of disciplines, p. #). In short, the non-disciple is costing you exactly that abundance of life that Jesus said He came to bring. Described this way, it is clear that the cost of being a non-disciple is greater than the cost of being a true follower of Jesus. Are we ready to count the cost?
There is a love worth the cost
Jesus challenged his disciples: “And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27, NLT). He continues: “Because who would start the construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” … What king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his advisers to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? (v. 28, 33).
The cross that we are called to carry has many forms. The cost will vary for each of us, but ultimately carrying our cross means sacrificing our own will to the will of God. And this is the point that Jesus is trying to illustrate: that it would be foolish to undertake a huge undertaking, like building a house, building a tower, or fighting a war, without considering the cost to see if you can afford it. to complete the business. It is the same with being a disciple of Jesus. He urges each of us to carefully consider what it would mean to be his disciple and to calculate the cost.
It’s a great idea: the life you earn in the kingdom as a disciple is worth more than what you have to give up. The cost of discipleship takes a back seat when we consider the all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the universe and His gift of salvation. This gift is both absolutely free but costs us our lives. We receive it for free, but once we receive it, we surrender all that we are and have to Jesus Christ.
However, this idea that discipleship costs us something is not that we do more. To follow Jesus is to surrender; it’s about Him having more and more of us. Being a disciple is a continual transformation to become more like Jesus. “The disciple is one who, determined to become like Christ and thus abiding in his ‘faith and practice’, systematically and progressively reorganizes his affairs to this end” (The great omission, p. #).
The cost is worth living
As I allowed Jesus to have more and more of my life, my priorities changed. I am no longer motivated by the need to do it all and have it all. I have counted the cost, and my heart is determined to continue the life of the kingdom. In doing so, my eyes opened, so I began to see what Jesus saw. He places the value of the kingdom on “one”: the one person, the only conversation, the only life. Jesus leaves 99 and seeks the one who is lost. He does not stop until he finds one, and when one is found he celebrates with exuberant joy (see Luke 15: 4-7). As his disciples, he invites us to do the same.
The cost of discipleship could mean re-prioritizing your schedule. It could mean sacrificing this Netflix series. It could cost you your career if you live in harmony with the ways of God. It could mean making room at your table during family time. It could mean shutting your mouth and listening instead. It could cost you financially; or it might cost you friendships when you prioritize “that one”.
It could be making that phone call; this may include bending over and talking to your neighbor as you walk past, even if you are in a rush; it could actually be catching up with that old friend; it could be just being curious and listening to someone share their story; it could be inviting someone to share a Friday night / Sabbath with you and your family.
Being a disciple comes at a cost. Kingdom life begs us to face our priorities. However, this cost is nothing compared to the love Jesus offers us when he says, “Follow me.” He offers the incredible gift of his grace and the honor of walking with the “lost” —becoming a fisher of people as he beckons them home.