When Jesus shared with His followers about the costs of discipleship, He didn't try to paint a pretty picture. He let them know the seriousness upfront. He told them, "If anyone desires to come after me and be my disciple, something is required of you. It's going to cost you everything." Basically, He let them know it would cost them their very lives.
(Luke 9:23-25 AMP)
(23)And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also]. (24)For whoever would preserve his life and save it will lose and destroy it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he will preserve and save it [from the penalty of eternal death]. (25)For what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and ruins or forfeits (loses) himself?
I can just imagine the thoughts running through their minds. "Yeah, great. Where do I sign up?"
He pretty much told them, You have to forget about your life as you know it, take up your cross (identify with the shame and reproach of the cross) and follow me daily. Jesus made sure that they knew that walking with Him was a walk of denial, suffering and even shame.
Now, we need to know that the very words Jesus said to those who walked closely with Him when He was physically in the Earth, still apply to us today.
The standards and requirements for His disciples have not changed.
He still says to those who follow Him, “If any man desires to follow me, you must deny yourself." "You have to completely disown yourself."
You have to realize that your life is really not your own.
But you've been bought with a price. The precious blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You don't belong to you.
Your Heavenly Father has need of you and a special purpose for you to fulfill.
And, if you are going to fulfill that purpose, it requires that you lay down your life.
It requires that you, get you, out of the way.
Your emotions---out of the way.
Your attitude--out of the way.
Your agenda--out of the way.
And completely forget about yourself, even wants and desires, for the cause of Christ.
Not just when it's convenient.
Not when you feel like it. Not just when everything is seemingly okay. But, what He requires of us remains the same everyday, all day.
His standards never change.
However, man creates his own standards. We say, "Oh it doesn't take all that." Because we like comfort. We like that which feels good. If it's convenient, then it's okay.
We are skilled at pleasing people and crave fitting in. And, for some, it is an absolute must that everyone likes them.
But, we must remember that Jesus didn't come to fit in. So, you won't either. Look at what He said in Matthew 10:34-39.
(34) “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. (35)For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; (36) and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. (37)He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. (38)And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of Me. (39)He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39 NKJV)
Please know that because of who and you are and whose you are, everyone won't get excited when you come on the scene. Sorry.
Don't take it personally. It's not you. It's because of who and whose you are. Who you represent. It's because you're chosen by Christ and He wants you to identify with Him. One way that we must identify with Him is by identifying with His sufferings.
As those who follow Christ, at times, we will identify with the rejection and isolation and ridicule Christ experienced.
All of that comes with the territory.
Now, knowing that being His disciple will cause you pain, suffering, rejection, knowing that it will cause you to be talked about and that great sacrifice is required of you-
Are you willing, in this hour, to disown yourself, deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Him?
Are you willing, knowing that it will cost you everything?
Father, help me today to be mindful of the costs of being Your disciple. Even when it may cause discomfort. I choose to lay down my life as I know it and follow you with my whole heart.