Cost of Discipleship
Merciful Father, today I turn to You for purpose, hope, direction, and deliverance.
Consider: "Somehow in the process of losing their lives, [these unheralded servants of Christ] have found them. They have received the peace that is not of this world. They are the favored ones, the graced ones" (Philip Yancey).
These words of Jesus are a reality check for his disciples and for us too. Chapters 8 and 9 have been full of amazing encounters as Jesus moved from one person and place to the next. Wherever he went things changed, people's lives were transformed and old assumptions were turned upside down. Exciting stuff, but in today's passage we're taken even deeper into the other side of discipleship--the demands and the cost of it all.
Jesus insisted that his mission entails strife and division. Although he is the Prince of Peace, the world will so violently reject him and his reign that people will divide over him, and before the consummation of the kingdom even the peace he bequeaths his disciples will be located in the midst of a hostile world (Isa. 9:6; John 14:27; 16:33; Luke 12:49-53). However, rather than being preoccupied by that, the disciples were to focus on getting their priorities right and killing off self-centered concerns by putting him first in everything. This included serving the needs of all their fellow believers, irrespective of status (41,42). And he would never disown them as long as their continuing loyalty to him took precedence over every other loyalty (32,33,37).
Within this, a necessary criterion for being a disciple of Jesus is to acknowledge him publicly (Rom. 1:16; 10:9). This will mark us out as his followers, even though we may vary in confidence, fluency, wisdom and sensitivity. At a personal level, embarrassment and fear of ridicule are probably the biggest barriers, along with the feeling that we don't have the right words to communicate effectively to a skeptical audience. Sadly, Christians are maybe better known nationally for speaking out about what we're against than we are for affirming kingdom life and principles wherever we find them.
How can you lose yourself for Christ this week? What does the paradox in verse 39 mean to you?
Father, may I set before me as models of discipleship those who truly reflect You and Your ways.
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