Today’s reading: Matthew 9-10.
George Barna describes Casual Christianity as “faith in moderation…a low-risk, predictable proposition…providing a faith perspective that is not demanding.” From a Casual Christian’s perspective, their “brand of faith practice is genuine, realistic and practical. To them, Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been irreligious, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.”
Contrast that perspective with the reality of living as a disciple with Jesus. These chosen men gave up everything to walk with Jesus. In the words of Kyle Idleman, they were not fans but followers. Jesus didn’t consider it a casual relationship. For him it was an all-or-nothing life-and-death decision.
“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.” Matthew 10:32-40
A disciple follows Jesus above all things. Above family, above riches, above all other work, above every desire of self. A disciple seeks the kingdom of heaven before all these other things.
A disciple follows Jesus in all things. Disciples are little-Christs. They look like Jesus because they live like Jesus. Like him they do what they see their Father in heaven doing. Like him they are abandoned to God.
A disciple follows Jesus in spite of all things. In spite of opposition from friends, family, employers, or the government. In spite of persecution or personal deprivation. A disciple carries his personal cross, dying to self so that Jesus may live in him.
A disciple follows Jesus in making other disciples. Disciple-making is the church’s only means of reproduction, and each generation rises or falls based on the strength of this birth process. Membership is not a substitute for discipleship. Parents must do it with their children, believers must do it with those they evangelize, and churches must do it with their members. We are never more like Jesus than when we are making disciples. I confess my own failings in this important duty.
You own Christ here, and Christ will own you there. Dare to bear reproach for him, and you shall be glorified together with him by-and-by, but if the tenor of your life be that you do not own Christ, if you practically live as if there were no Saviour, ignoring him, depriving him of the trust which he deserves, and the honour which he has earned, then, when he comes in the glory of the Father, he will say, “You never knew me, and I never knew you. Depart!” Charles Spurgeon
Image by Sergio Bramante on Wikimedia Commons, CC by-sa 3.0