The Cost of Discipleship
There comes a time when every relationship gets personal, when we have to put up or shut up. There comes a time when we have to figure out for ourselves just who that other person is to us; what he or she means to us? There will come a time in our life when we have to answer the same question about Jesus. Who do we say that He is? When we identify ourselves with Jesus we must be prepared to pay the cost of discipleship. How do we see Jesus? What is our relationship with Jesus? What are we willing to do on Jesus’ behalf? As we prepare our journey this week, let us give some thought to these questions. Are we able to live up to the cost of discipleship? The expression, “following Jesus;’ is one we frequently use in songs but are we able to do what is involved? There are difficult decisions to make in following Jesus? Do we remember Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler? “Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matthew 19:21). These words indicate that following Jesus involves supplying the needs of the poor.
Our journey with Jesus is not only an adventure, it is a relationship. We are not just following a set of laws or doctrines. We are walking with Jesus. It is a relationship. We do not always know what turns a relationship may take us. Who knows where life will lead us? How people will change? We commit ourselves to be on a journey with another human being, no matter where that journey leads us, even though “sickness or health, for better for worse”. Do we make that same promise with our church? Do we know where our journey with our church will lead us? Are we committed to stay on our journey, even through sickness, worse times, new leadership, loss of a job, divorce, separation? Are we committed to stay on our journey through all of the challenges of life that may come our way? As our journey moves from here to there, it may be a long process. We should get ready for growth, get ready for excitement, and get ready for obstacles. Are we ready for the journey?
There may be times when we wonder if the journey is worth it; tempers flare; people are not always at their best. On the other hand, we have to make a sacrifice. We have to be kind. We have to be considerate. When we are a family, over time, we may experience each other at our best and our worst. We learn about ourselves and others, sometimes we get tired, and sometimes it is difficult. On this journey there will be peaks and there will be valleys, but we have to keep on walking. The journey may require certain disciplines in order for one to persevere.
In Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Marcus Borg gives us insight on journeying with Jesus. To journey with Jesus means listening to his teaching and putting the lessons into practice as they are learned. The learning and the doing are a lifelong process.
- To journey with Jesus means being his companion on the road. It means being fed and nourished by him. It also means sharing our food with others. It is an ever-widening table of fellowship.
- To journey with Jesus means breaking down the barriers that divide us and accepting others without judgment. It means welcoming and mixing with the unclean, the profane, and the diseased.
- To journey with Jesus means living in community sometimes the church can be that community. The kingdom of God is much larger than the church. Discipleship is not an individual path, but a journey in the company of other disciples. We need community to sustain us.
- To journey with Jesus means being compassionate. “Be compassionate as God is compassionate” (Luke 6:36) is the defining mark of the follower of Jesus. Compassion is the fruit of life in the Spirit and the ethos of the community of Jesus.
- To journey with Jesus means opening our eyes to the needs of others. Compassion leads us to service – meeting fundamental human needs of food, clothing, and shelter.
- To journey with Jesus means sharing with others. Over and over again, Jesus calls on us to give freely, to lend without thought of return, to be generous and gracious.
- To journey with Jesus means seeking justice. We are called to speak on behalf of those who have no voice – the poor and oppressed of every land.
- To journey with Jesus means embracing nonviolence—to absorb hostility and to replace revenge with forgiveness. It involves loving our enemies and praying for their transformation. It involves breaking the cycle of reciprocation, not only of evil for evil, but also good for good.
- To journey with Jesus means a willingness to die for the sake of the kingdom. The journey of Jesus led to the cross. That is where Jesus calls us to follow today—the way of the cross. This is not some inward spiritual journey. This is a confrontation with power, violence and death. But we are not alone. Jesus walks ahead. He leads the way. And he bids us to come and join him.
Remember Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler? “…go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21).
Pastor Earnest E. Tate
Peace Lutheran Church