We’re finishing a series today entitled Upstream: Counter Culture Discipleship—recognizing how easy it is to drift with the currents of culture and suddenly find ourselves a long way from what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. We’re going to wrap it up today with a word from Jesus on commitment.
It’s a fitting topic for Memorial Day weekend—remembering those men and women whose commitment cost them their lives. Because of their sacrifice, we have the freedom to be Christian without persecution; but that does not mean we can be Christian without it costing our lives too.
Years ago I was in the Christian Living section at Mardel and overheard a woman asking an employee for help finding a book to purchase as a Father’s Day present for her husband. The well-meaning employee, trying to determine what book would be fitting, asked something like: “Well, tell me about your husband. What kind of Christian is he?” She said, “Oh… I don’t know… I guess he’s about average.”
The powerful influence of culture has made an “average” form of Christianity commonplace. “Average Christianity” is leached of its essential elements.
Essential Elements of Discipleship
Essential Elements of Discipleship
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.
“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Jesus was not interested in the casual acceptance of the crowd; he told them, in no uncertain terms, just how it was and what was expected. He counseled them to sit down and do the math. Do you have what it takes to be my disciple? Because, discipleship leached of radical commitment is useless.
“White Gold” - There are several varieties of salt in Palestine and, at the time, they had a variety of uses: household and agricultural. Purer forms for food (taste and preservation), "hardier forms” for Ag use (to kill weeds, to slow fermentation on the manure pile, and to fertilize the soil). “Salt of the earth” is a metaphor of fruitfulness not just tastefulness. This salt was not the same thing as what we get in a 3-lb box of Morton’s Kosher; it was “mixture of chlorides of sodium, magnesium, and potassium, with small amounts of calcium sulfate (gypsum)” (A.B. Bradley). Some of those elements would dissolve easily, making the compound less effective as fertilizer.
If the essential elements of discipleship are leached out of it, it’s useless.
What does it mean to be salty disciples—disciples w/the essential elements?
hate family (25-26). What?!
Don’t think ‘anger emoji’ and get hostile; think 100 emoji (100%/keep it real)—Our first allegiance is to Jesus, even if it costs us personal relationships of great value. Don’t let any relationship of secondary importance leach your life of radical commitment to Jesus.
I believe that Christians ought to give intentional focus to family, but there is a kind of family focus that is at odds with radical commitment to Jesus
seeking parental approval over Christ’s
prioritizing family time/kid experience over mission/sacrifice
love interests; do we let Jesus have his say or do we run solely on an appetite of lust?
Giving your first allegiance to Jesus may cost you a relationship, but that is certainly not the goal. The goal is to have rightly ordered loves, which is how we truly mature you as a sons/daughters, parents, spouses, siblings, etc. And, when it comes to ordering our lives, that includes ourselves: to “hate… even his own life.”
bear your own cross and come after Jesus (27)
journey to the cross: one way journey
love of your own life can dissolve the essential elements of discipleship
give up personal ambitions and aspirations
Common question: What do you want to be when you grow up? It is a worthwhile question, but the more important question is: Who does Jesus want you to be? What does he want you to do? Will you set aside your wants for his will?
renounce all that you have (33)
lit. say goodbye to it all
rid yourself of anything that prevents total commitment to Jesus
“Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.
That is the essential element of discipleship: radical commitment
College student with parents who had a hostile form of atheism promised to disown her if she ever became a Christians. I got to see her baptized.
Another twenty-something single woman met an attractive young man who was romantically interested, but there were aspects of his life that did not mesh with the call of Christ. She had to tell him ‘no’ (and there is no easy way to do that). It hurt, both ways. That is commitment—salty discipleship.
Closer to home: Loran & Mary Harper are salty disciples. They have been here for four decades of fruitful and effective ministry, still exemplifying radical commitment. Loran is retiring at the 41 year mark (51 total in ministry). Not retiring from discipleship to Jesus and his service as a shepherd, just retiring one form and season of his discipleship.
The chief thing I’ve learned from Loran: Do the next right thing, no matter the cost. That’s the takeaway this morning. That is the path of counter-culture, upstream discipleship.
Ultimately, our confidence before God is not in how well we follow, but in Who we follow. Our confidence is in Jesus who knew the cost and came anyway, bearing his cross, our sin.
In this teaching, Jesus gave us two parables: (1) a builder who considers whether he has enough resources to finish a project, and (2) a king who considers whether he can outmatch the enemy
From the cross, Jesus—carpenter and King—declared: “It is finished.” He was not an embarrassed and defeated sham; he was and is the victorious king. And the future will bear that out.
Radical commitment to him will prove worthwhile.