Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 14:25-35
Discipleship is more than just saying, “I will follow Jesus.” If we are to get the message of Christ to the world, we must “make disciples” who go out and make disciples who go out and make disciples, who – you guessed it – go out and make disciples (Matthew 18:19). If we are going to be the Church that Christ died for, if we are going to be the Church we are capable of being, each member – every Christian – must FIRST be a DISCIPLE.
Am I a Fan or a Follower? Jesus had fans. There were people who liked Jesus because He fed them bread and fish. There were people who came to Jesus because they, or someone they cared about, needed physical healing. Some people came to Jesus because He was at that time, The Greatest Show on Earth, and because He taught like no one else before or after Him. Some went to listen to Him and see what He was doing because everyone else did. Jesus was popular in certain circles. Today there are people who look to Jesus because: A) He gives free stuff like Grace, B) Their family or friends follow Jesus, C) They feel guilty or are afraid not to look to Jesus, D) They think His teachings will make them nicer, E) Being a part of a church gives their life purpose, F) Jesus is the bail bondsman for sin, or G) some other similar reason. They are Fans of Jesus.
Jesus said some interesting things to His fans while He was on Earth. Fans today need to carefully listen to and consider His words. “Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned to them and said . . .” (Luke 14:25). This is purposeful. This was no flippant statement He was about to make. What He is about to say, He says with the apparent intention to thin the crowds; to pare down the numbers. We tend to think larger numbers are better. For Jesus the size of the crowd is not as important as their level of commitment. Jesus wants followers (disciples) not simply fans. “So,” Jesus is saying, “you want to follow Me by being My disciple? Good! Let me give you the details of what you are signing up for.” What? That is not what your version says? Look again at Luke 14:28-32. If you are going to build a tower, do you have the necessary funds? If you are going to war, do you have the needed resources and troops? Are you going to be Jesus’ disciple? Then you need to know what Jesus expects of His followers.
Jesus expects us to Hate: Luke 14:26. Hate parents, your siblings, your children, and your spouse, and your own life if you want to follow Jesus. Don’t water this down! This is what Jesus says. If the choice is between any one of these people or Jesus – Jesus wins out every time. Family, friends, and self all come after God. Take a look in a good concordance to see how many times Jesus says “believe in ME” compared with how many times He says, “follow Me.” He says “follow Me” about 20 times and “believe in Me” 4 times. I recently heard a speaker say that Christ does not want to be first in our lives, He wants to BE OUR LIFE. “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ WHO IS YOUR LIFE appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:3-4 emphasis mine BSMc). This is discipleship, this is following, not simply being a fan.
He expects us to Give Up Personal Desires: Luke 14:27. A cross is not simply a burden, it is a method of execution (cf. Galatians 5:24). Jesus is saying we are to die to ourselves. Ask yourself (have the teens ask themselves) these questions: A) Am I choosing my life goals over God? B) Do my plans feed my ego or do they seek to glorify God? C) Will I forego my plans if they do not meet with God’s approval? Jesus expects us to Give Up Our Belongings – our stuff. Luke 14:33. We must not allow our possessions to possess us. We need to hold on to the things of life loosely (Philippians 3:8-11 – Paul counting everything but Christ worthy of the garbage dump). Being a disciple of Jesus is not something you do on Sundays, Wednesday night, youth devotionals, and before you eat. Following Jesus (being a disciple) is a 24 hour a day 7 days a week commitment that WILL interfere with your life.
(Note: Much of this material developed into this form after reading the book, Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. Mr. Idleman’s book helped me see more about how to grow as a true disciple.)