If Jesus lived in our current day, he would be “trending.” Social media would be buzzing about his miracles, his teachings, his followers, and his ministry momentum. He would be a cultural icon in the making; perhaps even the Palestinian Idol. TMZ would have their paparazzi and reporters documenting his every move.
However, if Jesus dwelt on earth today, it is unlikely he would be impressed by either the mass media or the masses. He would see right through the praise and adoration of most. He would recognize the difference between fickle interest and unconditional allegiance. And ultimately, Jesus would not accept such praise or surround himself with those who would idolize him today and be found indifferent tomorrow.
How can we be sure that Jesus would not be impressed by such faddish and fickle interest? We can look at his response to the panting crowd in Luke 14:
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. (Luke 14:25-33)
Jesus, at the zenith of his earthly popularity, witnessed the great crowd about him, and spoke some very disconcerting words. First, he demanded absolute allegiance over any and all their friends and family members. He would be the supreme leader of his cult, and there could be no competing allegiances.
Secondly, those who wished to be his disciple were required to embrace persecution, pain, and death. The Roman cross represented the modern-day guillotine, gallows, gas chamber, or electric chair, and his true followers must consider themselves already crucified while walking towards such an end. Not health, wealth, and prosperity, but death, poverty, and humiliation were set before his disciples. Kingdom work could include the death of a business, retirement plan, friendship, and marriage.
Finally, Jesus expressed the unfair odds set before his friends. Marching with Jesus would be like a king going to war with a 2-1 deficit. Those against the king had twenty thousand soldiers while he had only half that number. Who would work and minister with these odd? Jesus did not promise defeat, but he did promise a seemingly unfair objective.
Therefore, alongside these statements, Jesus insisted that those who wished to be his disciples must “count the cost.” They must decide whether Jesus and his kingdom was worth such a radical commitment. According to Jesus, fickle interest was not acceptable. One had to be all in. A disciple was one who had unconditional allegiance. He was one who renounced all in favor of Jesus Christ.
Friends, will we heed Christ and quickly dismiss all contrary voices?
Have we proven to be sacrificial servants of Christ? Do we view ourselves as “dead men walking” with no inherent rights of privileges? We are sons. but are we stewards? Are we servants? Are we slaves? Are we crucified with Christ? Are we able to enjoy the good gifts he gives us today, and willing to give them all back in his service tomorrow?
And are we OK with the current odds facing the church? Do we see the seemingly unfair advantage of Satan’s team before us, and despite their apparent advantage, do we yell, “Game on!”
Finally, friends and fellow disciples of Christ, aren’t we glad that Jesus died for our “discipleship sins?” It is comforting to know that our salvation is based upon grace and not our works. For if our eternal security rested in our unconditional allegiance to Christ, we would all be found wanting. Thomas doubted, Peter denied, and all the disciples turned their back and fled for cover. Truthfully, the female disciples of Jesus faired much better than the Twelve in the day of Jesus’ trial and tribulation. However, Christ prayed for his men, and they returned to duty. And in the end, their testimony was one to admired. Christ did a magnificent work in the hearts of these double-minded disciples, and they proved their unconditional allegiance to Christ and his kingdom.
So let us recognized the standard, confess our transgressions, receive additional grace, and recommit to be less fickle and more resolved disciples of Jesus. Then, perhaps the following declaration of an unknown and martyred pastor from Zimbabwe might become representative of our life:
I’m a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His and I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My future is secure. I’m done and finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, or first, or tops, or recognized, or praised, or rewarded. I live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by Holy Spirit power. My face is set. My gait is fast. My goal is heaven. My road may be narrow, my way rough, my companions few, but my guide is reliable and my mission is clear. I will not be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice or hesitate in the presence of the adversary. I will not negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He does come for His own, He’ll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear!