Once again Jesus reminds us of the cost of discipleship. In harsh and unyielding terms, he tells us that following him is not a casual endeavor or a part time pursuit, but a call of dedication into a new way of life –
away from the comfortable,
away from the familiar,
away from surety of family and friends,
away from our possessions and entertainments
away from the safety and security of our known world:
Taking on a life under the burden of the cross – following in his footsteps, loving as we are loved and living in a radical new way.
Jesus tells us that when the Spirit moves us to follow him, - to become his disciple, - we must make sure of our commitment to this new life – our life in Christ – our life under the cross. He warns us that this is not an easy life, a life of comfort - where we can be his disciples and still continue in our old ways of living. It is a radical call to leave behind all our possessions, all our ties to family and community, all the things of this world – to seek God and his Kingdom above.
This is not a life of half measures or for the faint-hearted, but one of total dedication. Once we begin our journey, Jesus tells us not to look back, - longing for what was left behind, but to go forward - guided by our belief in the Word of God and strengthened in our faith through God’s love and grace.
Our journey should not be clouded with doubts and hesitations. When we start out on this road of discipleship, we should have a clear understanding of the destination and the costs to reaching our goal. We need to ask ourselves:
Do we have the strength of belief - to reach the destination?
Do we have the commitment of faith - to stay the course, no matter the hardship?
Do we have the courage to accept - that we will be challenged and tested along the way?
Do we recognize that it is only through the love and grace of God - that we will be able to suffer hardship, persecution and rejection for the sake of the Gospel and for the name of Jesus?
In becoming a disciple of Christ, we are not given a promise of a life of ease in this world. Jesus tells to leave this world behind and to give away all the things we’ve come to know, love and rely on, - so that we may pursue the better things, the higher things, the things not of this world, but the things of the God’s Kingdom.
Jesus warns us that we cannot serve two masters or live two lives. His disciples, should not be distracted by worldly pursuits –
the things that rust and decay –
the things that are not everlasting –
the things that cannot save -
But focus on what can save, - what is enduring, and everlasting; the Love of God and eternal life in the peace of his heavenly Kingdom.
Jesus promises us that we will not be alone in our journey of discipleship, - but that he will be with us always - until the ends of the earth and that we are beloved children of God, - the God who desires us to be with him forever. He does promise that when we take up the cross of Christ: our yoke will be easy and our burden light - for he has sent the Spirit to be with us; to comfort us, to guide us and to teach us.
Our call to discipleship, - to a life of wonder and fulfillment in the love of God, - is not something we should take on lightly. Jesus wants us to know that disciples should have their eyes wide open - before entering into this new life – the life of a follower of the Way, the Truth and the Life. That discipleship in Christ Jesus means leaving behind all the things of this world - that keep us from loving God as God loves us – completely, without question or hesitation – forever and ever ~Amen.
Deacon Don Ron