A disciple of Christ is one who intentionally and relentlessly pursues Christ. Disciples seek to know him more deeply, to love him more fully, and to witness to him more profoundly with their lives, every day. Disciples hold nothing back. They submit it all – time, money, plans, family, friends, talents, comforts, desires, needs, sickness, health, present, future, body, soul, everything – to the will of their Lord. He is the author and finisher of their faith. He is their “all in all.”
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Luke 14:25-35
Characteristics of disciples:
1. singular trust
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1
Disciples do not trust in the vanity of this world. They do not trust the devil who accuses them, the world which tempts them, or their own flesh which lures them. They do not trust their own opinions, or their own interpretations of life. They do not trust their own righteousness or moral efforts. Their trust is in one place, and one place only: their Savior.
2. unattached to the world; wholly attached to Jesus
“…set apart for the gospel of God…” Romans 1:1
Disciples do not seek to gain the world, for their citizenship is already secure in heaven. They do not want what the world wants or fear what the world fears. To them, ambition, money, and worldly success only pale in comparison with the joy, peace, and satisfaction of knowing Christ.
3. sacrificial love
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
In order to love like Jesus, disciples give up their rights for the sake of others. They don’t insist on what they want, but humbly and quietly sacrifice their desires and needs so that other will benefit. They do this because of the way Jesus has loved them, giving up all his rights for their sake and taking up his cross for them.
4. a passion for the poor, oppressed, and lost
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14
Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
Jesus spent the great majority of his time on earth with sick people, societal outcasts, nobodies, and the poor. He preached about how difficult it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, and he demanded that his followers give up everything they owned in order to follow him. Christ’s disciples compassionately and intentionally seek out the poor, the oppressed, and the lost in order to provide for their physical needs, love them, and tell them the gospel of Jesus, the “man familiar with suffering” who is nonetheless “making all things new.”
5. sharing the love of Christ and making other disciples; being “salt and light”
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Disciples know that Jesus is in charge of the universe and their lives; they know he loves them and will never leave them. Therefore, they go. They go and they take his message with them.
Jesus warned us: count the cost. The road will not be easy. It will be marked with suffering and identified by sacrifice. It will require daily struggle, daily repentance, and daily surrender. But it will be the journey of a lifetime. It will conquer the universe.