Most of us are well aware of what the Great Commission says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). But, I believe many of us are failing miserably at fulfilling Jesus’ command.
I believe we are failing in fulfilling the Great Commission because so many of us (me included) concentrate primarily on teaching a person what he needs to do in order to be saved, and not on Jesus instruction to “make disciples.” We teach people the “five steps of salvation,” we baptize them, and tell them to be “faithful.” But, many times they have no idea what they’ve signed up for. They have no idea what faithfulness entails.
We haven’t explained to those with whom we’re studying that saved people are “disciples” and the cost of discipleship is total submission and total surrender. Chances are, we would have significantly fewer baptisms if we concentrated on really making disciples. But, if people knew what they were getting into first, we would probably have a whole lot better retention rate.
One passage has been rattling around in my mind all week. In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus talked about counting the cost of discipleship before becoming a disciple. I don’t know that we teach people this way. If a preacher got up and preached this way, some might say, “Stop discouraging people from becoming Christians.” But, Jesus wanted people to know exactly what they would be signing up for.
Here are some of the things he said:
1. Disciples Choose Him Over Family
Jesus said that in order to come to Him, a person must, “Hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters” (vs. 26). I believe what Jesus is saying here is that you cannot be a disciple of His if you are going to choose your family over Him (see Matthew 10:37). Many people are favor the opinions and traditions of their family, over the teachings of Christ; Jesus says you cannot keep that mentality if you want to be His disciple.
2. Disciples Choose Him Over their Own Life
Jesus said that a disciple must “hate…his own life” (vs. 26). This not only means we need to live for Christ, but we must willing to die for Him as well. Do we explain to people, before dunking them in the water, “You are signing up to die for Jesus, if that time ever comes.” Disciples are people who consider their own interests – even their own life – meaningless, compared with the interests of Christ and His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33).
3. Disciples Choose Him Over Possessions
Jesus said, “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (vs. 33). Did you hear that?! Do you understand that Jesus just bluntly explained, you have to sign over ownership of EVERYTHING in order to be His disciple? Becoming a disciple means emotionally letting go of everything we have; totally surrendering to Christ. The time may never come when you have to physically give up everything you own, but in order to be a disciple of Christ you have to give up everything emotionally from the beginning. Jesus also said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24).
Are You a Disciple?
Perhaps the reason we don’t make disciples is that many of us are still struggling to become disciples ourselves. Well, I think it’s time to stop straddling the fence. I think it’s time to decide who we will follow (1 Kings 18:21). Will we follow our family? Will we follow our own selfish interests? Will we follow money? Or, will we be true disciples of the Messiah?
Don’t think that I’m saying you can earn your salvation by being a disciple of Christ; discipleship is not about earning salvation. Discipleship is about following the One who offers salvation and realizing that following Him is the only way to receive it (1 John 1:7; 2:1-6). In order to receive salvation, we must follow Him into the grave of baptism (Romans 6:1-7) and continue following Him for the rest of our lives.
Are you truly following Him? Are you teaching others to follow Him? Discipleship requires total sacrifice, but the rewards are out of this world!
I love you and God loves you,