Live Out Our Faith
When we look around us, we will notice that a large portion of the world is in turmoil. In the past month, we have witnessed the Middle East uprising and its domino effect. Then at the opposite end of Asia, in northeast Japan, an earthquake and a tsunami killed thousands and impacted many more.
In times like these, we as the Lord's disciples, are challenged to consistently live out our faith according to Jesus's words: "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).
John Stott in his book The Radical Disciple mentioned that the words Christian and disciple imply a relationship with Jesus, although 'disciple' could be the stronger word of the two because it implies the relationship of pupil to the teacher.
Our common way of avoiding radical discipleship is to be selective, choosing areas in which our commitment suits us. However, when we acknowledge Jesus as Lord, we have no right to pick and choose but to submit fully to His authority.
Let us examine three basic principles of discipleship gleaned from a Christian leader.
We often use this word when we are led into full-time ministry. We make it exclusive, that it is for some and not for others. But there is an interesting verse in Matthew 22:14 in which Jesus said, "Many are called, but few are chosen" (KJV), at the end of his teaching in the Parable of the Wedding Banquet.
The Lord demands complete obedience from us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "Only he who believes is obedient; only he who is obedient believes." That means God does not want us to be a "bottom line believer". He wants believers who are prepared to allow Him to transform them. That was what the apostle Paul's calling was about when God told Ananias, "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name" (Acts 9:16)
Therefore, God's call on your life did not come with a list of guarantees but with His assurance of never-failing promises! (H.B. London)
It is not difficult to comprehend what cost means. We typically think of cost in monetary form like when we sacrifice a well-paid job or a career advancement. But cost is normally related to fear. When something costs us, we usually have fear.
We experience fear when we are in danger of losing something. Take the example of Simon Peter, who told the Lord, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will" (Matthew 26:33). Jesus responded, "I tell you the truth this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times" (vs.34).
Simon Peter knew the cost, yet he denied the Lord three times because fear caught hold of him. He feared losing his life and forgot that following Christ could cost him his life.
Our commitment should not be like the flash in the pan variety but instead we should be like the marathon runner who knows how to pace and finish the race well. As someone remarked, "People who drive need a destination." How true it is for we just cannot drive around not knowing where we are going.
The same applies to us as disciples of the Lord. Our commitment reflects our trust and faith in our Master. Our commitment gives us the motivation to keep our character and integrity pure as well as to serve with humility.
That is exactly what Jesus meant when he challenged us to take up our cross daily and follow Him - that we be willing to commit our lives to Him, to follow in His steps and even to die for Him.
To take up the cross may involve much persecution, which many have experienced in other countries. It is our attitude, not the amount of suffering and shame we endure that counts in God's sight.
To be overcomers in this world, we are reminded that we need to first be disciples of the One who has called us. God wants his people to become like Christ, for Christlikeness is the will of God for His people.