“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:26 NKJV
When I was growing up, I wanted to be GI JOE, a comic book character who was strong, virtuous but fun, defender of the weak and oppressed, and of truth and right, someone who would even sacrifice their life for a righteous cause. GI JOE was ‘the bomb,’ the coolest character out there. Today perhaps young guys are inspired by the US Navy SEAL teams, or the Marines Force Recon, or the Army’s Delta teams, or some minister of the gospel, hopefully not some idiot rapper or athlete. Who knew that for me ‘GI JOE’ would actually turn out to be the Son of the living God!
When I saw this in Luke, I first thought it must be figurative language – we are supposed to hate father, mother, wife, children, family, and our own lives? But I found no figure in the verse other than the POLYSYNDETON, the ‘many ands,’ which emphasizes each ‘and’ and its thought, ‘father’, ‘mother’, etc. In fact, Jesus doubles down on the cost of discipleship in Matthew.
He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Matt 10:37-38 NKJV
WHOA! You know, to get into the SEAL teams requires six months of grueling training, but even the SEALS don’t require what Jesus requires. Virtue requires sacrifice. ‘He cannot be (Grk. OU DUNATAI) my disciple,’ i.e. he is not empowered to be my disciple. There is something empowering about sacrifice. There is a spiritual transaction in your sacrifice that allows the release of the greater good. You see this all the time anecdotally in history. But even for those who die in sacrifice, the transaction is not in their death – no one’s death is redemptive except Jesus’ – but in the life they led that led to their death. We are called to be living sacrifices. Do you see it?
Both the records in Matthew and Luke are followed by this statement.
And whoever does not bear his cross (Grk. STAUROS, stake or walking stick) and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:27-28 NKJV
What’s implied here is training. The ancient art of discipleship was to live, work and move with your master. The goal of all training is to BECOME your master, full incarnations of Him, as my friend Tim pointed out. Jesus never intended for us to just imitate Him, but rather to become incarnations of Him. What I love about Jesus’ call to discipleship is that because He asks you for your all, you can give your all in a level of service that is heroic, and though you may never get medals and parades here, you will be justly rewarded in Heaven. An inner passion in all good ones, men and women, thrives at being heroes!
THE BENEFITS OF DISCIPLESHIP
Let’s talk about the benefits or rewards of discipleship.
…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph 3:19 NKJV
One of the things we are doing here at Lightbearers is that we have a team of guys that are developing a discipleship training program. It’ll be a series of short videos, perhaps forty in all, no longer than thirty minutes each, that take us from a foundation in the Gospels to Romans and finally to Ephesians. We’ll set the foundation in Jesus’ own words in the gospels, then go to the Romans section, which includes the truths in the books of Acts through Galatians. At the end of the Romans section you will have ‘Christ formed in you.’
My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you… Gal 4:19 NKJV
When Christ is formed in you, then you are ready for the Ephesians section, which will include truths gleaned from Ephesians through Thessalonians, and culminates with you being filled with all the fulness of God. The gifts of the Spirit will be taught and imparted throughout the training, starting with the Baptism in the Gospels section. We will develop the speaking gifts in the Romans section and really go further with the revelation and authority gifts in the Ephesians section. I describe born again ones who have the written Word but who aren’t filled with the Spirit as being like a one-legged man trying to run a race. You need fully both legs, the Spirit and the Word, to run well. Although founded in the Romans section, ministries are really launched in the Ephesians section, as the Church, from its position at the right hand of God, operates in authority and influence. That course is coming soon!
THE EFFECTS OF DISCIPLESHIP
“These who have turned the world upside down have come here too!” Acts 17:6 NKJV
The leftist Christian magazine CHRISTIANITY TODAY occasionally features articles that advance a more pure biblical worldview. In 2012 they ran an article that scientifically measured the effects of pure hearted biblically based missionaries on third world countries. They found that countries where the pure gospel of Jesus was presented without a political or unbiblical religious agenda, one hundred years later that country was further ahead of its neighbors in education, healthcare and economic prosperity, and it was provably due to the influence of the missionaries (these were largely our ‘one-legged’ brethren; imagine what influence truly Spirit filled saints could have!). This was proven in study after study!
The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Rev 22:2-3 NKJV
True disciples have great positive effect on the world around them. We know from physics that everything effects everything, so you cannot have a release of the power of God from Heaven through you without it affecting everything around you. Light dispels darkness. The life-giving power of God even effects unbelievers. On Paul’s sinking wheat ship, EVERYONE lived! (Oh, HS is jumping on the inside now!) Dear one, where you go, people live, and they don’t even know why they live…they just do!
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. John 7:38-39 NKJV
There is nothing greater in this world than to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. I daily marvel in thankfulness for the privileges that I have as a disciple. When I see people LIVE wherever we go I know its because of the river of life that is flowing through us from the throne of God. Dear one, you have a hero’s heart! Pay the cost of discipleship daily and let the world experience the living Christ. Love you!
Remember dear ones, we must be about our Father’s business!