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.
Take a moment and ponder this question: How do you know you are really a disciple of Jesus? If someone asked for proof that you are indeed a follower of Jesus Christ what evidence would you provide? Perhaps there is an even more fundamental question that we need to consider: What does it mean to be a Christian? I think many Christians are frustrated because they go to church once a week, pray everyday, and even manage to read the Bible on a regular basis, but it feels like something is missing in their lives.
I believe that many Christians are frustrated with their lives because they go to church at least once a week, pray everyday, and even manage to read their Bibles on a regular basis, but in spite of their efforts there seems to be something missing from their lives. They question if being a Christian even matters.
In the past Christianity has focused on “spiritual disciplines” to help us understand what disciples, followers of Christ, should be doing. These things include study, pray, meditation, service, fasting, fellowship, and worship. Let me be absolutely clear in this: these disciplines are essential in helping us understand how to live the life God created us to live. The problem we run into is that being a follower of Christ is that we make following Jesus about the disciplines rather than using the disciplines to become more like Jesus. This brings us to the one thing that is absolutely essential to the life of a disciple and that is faith. Faith is what makes the spiritual disciplines effective, because it is that obedient trust in Jesus that produces the results of the disciplines in our lives.
Faith is not just about belief. Belief is the foundation of faith, but if all we have is belief then all we have is a stone foundation without a house. Faith must grow into trust, commitment, and action. Trust means that we will believe Jesus even though His way of living seems contrary to what we think is best. Commitment means that we will remain loyal to Jesus no matter what happens to us. Action means that we will be obedient to what Jesus tells us to do, even when it is difficult. Only when we have faith do the spiritual disciplines of Christianity come alive and help us mature as Christians.
Jesus tells us in Luke 14:25-27 that we need faith if we are going to be true disciples. The type of faith that we need produces love in our lives. Jesus tells us that unless we love Him above everything else in our lives we will not be able to follow Him. We may be able to go through the motions and look like we are His followers, but we will not be the fully devoted people He demands us to be. When we are not fully devoted to Jesus we will only follow Him when it is convenient to us
Love will motivate us to behave in a certain way and will lead us to do certain acts of service, and it is the love expressed in the way we live our lives that set us apart as followers of Jesus. Our love is an outgrowth of of faith. Discipleship for the Christian is about love expressing itself in faith.
If something seems to be missing in your life take an inventory of your life. What do you love the most? Are you following Jesus out of faith? I think those are two very important questions we need to consider as we seek to grow as Christians. Being a Christian is about doing the right things out of the love and faith that we have in our heart.