There is a truth about Christianity that many people overlook (or purposely ignore.)
FOLLOWING CHRIST IS NOT EASY!
It is not a venture that can be taken lightly, half-heartily or lukewarmly. Being a Christ follower takes careful consideration and is full of sacrifice.
“25Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. He turned to them and said, 26“If people come to me and are not ready to abandon their fathers, mothers, wives, children, brothers, and sisters, as well as their own lives, they cannot be my disciples. 27So those who do not carry their crosses and follow me cannot be my disciples.”
The cross in Jesus’ day was an execution tool used by the Romans, much like the electric chair or lethal injection is in our day. When Jesus tells people to carry their cross, he is basically saying “Be prepared to die for my sake.” Anyone who is not willing to die for Jesus is not worthy of being His disciple. That cuts deep, doesn’t it? You go to church every Sunday, you try hard to be good…. but are you willing to die for Christ? Are you so committed to following Jesus that you’d rather be executed before you stopped being His disciple?
28“Suppose you want to build a tower. You would first sit down and figure out what it costs. Then you would see if you have enough money to finish it. 29Otherwise, if you lay a foundation and can’t finish the building, everyone who watches will make fun of you. 30They’ll say, ‘This person started to build but couldn’t finish the job.’ 31“Or suppose a king is going to war against another king. He would first sit down and think things through. Can he and his 10,000 soldiers fight against a king with 20,000 soldiers? 32If he can’t, he’ll send ambassadors to ask for terms of peace while the other king is still far away. 33In the same way, none of you can be my disciples unless you give up everything.”
What do the builder and the king have in common here? They both have to consider the costs of their undertaking. The builder needs to calculate the costs of the materials to make sure he has enough to finish the project and the king has to consider if he has enough troops to win the war. In the same way, each and every person needs to evaluate themselves and determine if they are willing to sacrifice everything to be Jesus’ disciple. If a person doesn’t take the time to consider the cost of following Christ, they may give up before completion.
“62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” “
People who look back, or who give up before completion are not fit to be disciples nor are they fit for service in the kingdom of God.
FOLLOWING CHRIST IS NOT EASY!
It is not a club people get into by saying a prayer or by doing good deeds. It is also not a ‘Get out of hell free’ pass for those who simply claim to believe in God.
“You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.”
“14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”
As we see here the Bible says through the book of James that faith alone is not enough. Simply claiming belief in God will not save you but those who’s actions support their claims of faith, those are the ones whose faith is alive! Our loving actions, our good deeds, these are the pillars that hold up our faith. Who can say they have real living faith if they do not live in a manner that supports such claims?
When we combine this with the statements Jesus made in the book of Luke, from above, then we get a clearer picture of what it takes to be a Christ follower; By faith they count the costs, sacrificing themselves they put Christ above all else and commit to pursue Him even if it means death and through it all they love with an unworldly love just as He commanded us to do, love God and love others. The actions that we perform out of God’s love are the proofs that we truly believe.
Now we must be careful because there are people who claim to be believers, who claim to be part of the church and yet have no passion for God. They acknowledge Him with their lips but their hearts are far from Him. Jesus has a message for them in the book of Revelation.
“15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”
The people that Jesus is speaking to are oblivious to their own complacency. They think they’ve got everything they need, they’re comfortable, they’re completely lukewarm. They have no desire to make the sacrifices Jesus calls for, nor are they burning with passion to pursue Him with everything they have. These types of people, the ones who settle for mediocrity and are ok with doing just enough to get by, these people will be vomited out of Jesus’ mouth. These people make Him sick. Yet He does not give up on them!
“19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. 20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. “
All these people have to do is turn from their indifference and open the door.
I will say one final time:
FOLLOWING CHRIST IS NOT EASY!
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
” 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.
Finding and travelling the road to eternal life is hard. Finding and travelling on the broad path is much easier, and is taken by many, unfortunately this path leads to destruction. As we see here in the book of John, Jesus clarifies that He is the gate. It is through Him alone that salvation is found. Remember to count the costs. Are you willing to travel the entire distance of the narrow path or will you end up looking back? Few choose the narrow path; perhaps it just seems too difficult for them? Most people simply don’t want to surrender their lives to Jesus, the idea of letting go scares them.
Look around you! Do you see all the people who claim to believe in God but have no desire to commit their lives to being His disciples? Do you see the ones who claim to believe but whose passion has burned out and they are lukewarm? The ones who have run out of materials while building the foundation or who have looked back while plowing the field? Do you see all the people on the broad path heading for destruction!?
Better yet, look inside yourself. Are you lukewarm? Are you on the broad path? Which direction are you looking, forward with your eyes on Jesus or behind you to all the worldly things you have to leave behind?
No wonder Jesus says the following:
“21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
So then what is the will of the Father?
“29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.””
And so it comes full circle. The only people who will enter into the kingdom of heaven are those who do the will of God. What is the will of God? To believe in His son, whom He sent as a sacrifice for us. How do we believe? By surrendering our lives to Him, committing to be His disciples and choosing to love God and love others in honor of His truth, even unto death.
This narrow path is the only option for those who want to gain eternal life. The ones who choose to embark on it’s journey will find trials, hardships, difficulties and sacrifice, but those who maintain to the end, without looking back will receive the coveted prize – The crown of life, eternity with the King and the words: “‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
- https://deepcave.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/grace-for-the-narrow-path/ – Follow up post – Grace for the Narrow Path