Every believer in Christ desires to be known as a true disciple of Christ, living life well-pleasing to God, and Christ our Lord. But following the master poses lots of challenges and it comes with a high price.
In Luke chapter 14, verses 28 to 33, Christ said to the multitude following him, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the 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 to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
Becoming a disciple of Christ may be costly and dangerous, and that was the reason Christ compared it to building a tower and waging war. In either case, the scripture says the cost needs to be counted first. Why do you need to count the cost? Because you need to have an idea of what you are going into before you make any commitment. In essence, you need to understand the requirements, the expectations, and the challenges of discipleship. You need to count the cost, because the call and the path of a disciple is not an easy one, yet it is the call and the path to eternal life. And most importantly, being a disciple is about finishing, or completing the Christian race that is set before him. You need to count the cost to determine if you have all it takes, the minimum level of faith, to complete the race of eternal life, and to win. You also need to weigh the cost against the rewards whether the risks are worth taking.
The following are the cost you must count if you desire to become a true disciple of Christ.
A disciple must love his master.
Anyone who wants to be Christ’s disciple must love him. To love the master involves loving him more than any family member – father, mother, brother, sister, and children. This was what Christ meant when he said you have to hate them to become his disciple. It also means loving Him more than your own life, the world, and all that is in it, John 12:25, 1 John 2:15. To love the master is to be willing to obey him at all times, and your allegiance must be to him alone. In John14: 15, Christ said: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” A true disciple of Christ does not only show love for him alone, but also to his neighbor, and fellow brethren.” Also in John Chapter 13, verses 34 to 35, Christ said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this, all will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another.”
A disciple must love because love is the fulfilling of the law. No matter how a disciple is gifted, if he has no love, he is nothing, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. To love the master is to be willing to please Him always, and making him your one and only master. The moment the Master calls and says “follow me” the disciple must be ready to leave all and follow His lead without any excuse. Read Luke 3:20, 10:24, 14: 33, Matthew 4:20, Luke 14:18, and Mark 2:14. To follow the master is to walk in his footsteps – walk as he walked. How should a disciple love his master? Jesus said in Matthew chapter 22 and verse 37, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Read Luke 16:13, Mark 12:30, Luke 6:32, I John 4:21, John14:21, I John 5:3, I John2:5, 2 John 1:6, Luke 10:27
A disciple must totally obey his master’s command.
A true mark of Christ’s disciple is absolute obedience to his words. In fact, your level of obedience to Christ’s words is equal to the level of your loyalty, trust, and love for Him. In turn, these show your level of faith in Him. You cannot call someone your master without obeying him. Jesus said in Luke 6:46, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” Christ cannot be your Lord if you don’t obey His words. If there is anything a disciple must ask God for, it is, Lord, help me to absolutely obey you. Why? Because the sustenance of his salvation depends on it.
Now consider Matthew 7 from verses 21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Now ask yourself, what does it really profit, if you call Christ your Lord, if you prophesied, spoke in the tongue, cast out demons, did many miracles, and signs and wonders in his name, and yet you do not make it to the kingdom of God. Now to the all-important question. Why were these gifted people rejected? Look at verses 21 and 23 of Matthew chapter 7. They were rejected because they never did the will of their master. When you become Christ’s disciple, it is not about your will anymore, it is about the will of God.
They were rejected because they practice lawlessness. To practice lawlessness is to disregard the commandment of God. It means breaking God’s law, and this is a sin, 1 John 3: 4. A disciple is not under the law, because he keeps the law. Yes, a true disciple is under grace, and to be under grace means to always trust God, by the power of his Holy Spirit, to keep his laws. You may read Romans 6:1, 15, Galatians 5;18. Again, Christ cannot be your Lord, if you don’t obey his words. A true disciple follows only his master instructions and goes where he is sent.
A disciple must be loyal to his master
Another true mark of a disciple is absolute loyalty to his master. To be loyal means to be faithful to Christ, to be committed to his business (the Kingdom business), and striving to make profits for him. A true disciple will always seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. In the absence of the master, a true disciple will never allow his master’s business to suffer. That disciple will never use his master’s resources unwisely, and will never treat those he has been given to oversee unfairly or unjustly. He will always be ready to give an account of his stewardship to his master. Commitment is measured by how much you are available for the master’s service. You cannot be loyal or committed to him if you are holding onto the things of this life, making you have no time for him. Read Mathew 25:14-26.
A disciple must be willing to die to self.
Total renunciation of all selfish interests is one important characteristic of a true disciple. Self-glory, self-indulgence, self-gratification, self-righteousness, self-seeking, self-interest and the likes are not part of the life Christ’s disciple. Dying to self for a disciple may mean losing his social status, or losing control over his time, money or career. Look, the calling of a disciple is not about him, but about Christ and His Kingdom, so there is no room for self. It is not your will anymore, but the will of God in your life. At baptism, you are crucified and died with him, and the new life you now have is not yours. It is Christ’s. You are bought with a price, and “He must increase, and you (self) must decrease”. Read John 3:30, Romans 2:8, Titus 1:7, Philippians 2:3
A disciple must be willing to suffer
Being a disciple of Christ does not mean a life free of trouble; you will be hated, rejected, persecuted, or even killed. Your loyalty to Christ will be tested, your faith will be tried and you will face tribulation. John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”. 2 Timothy 3:12, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Matthew 24:9, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” John 16:2, “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.”
A true disciple does not love his life, even to death, Revelation 12:11b. Also, becoming Christ’s disciple does not mean having all you want in life, but trusting God to meet your needs on a daily basis – give us this day our daily bread says the word of God. Please understand this, to become Christ’s disciple, you have to carry your cross. What is a cross? A cross is a symbol of suffering, shame, and death. On it our master himself suffered, shamed and died. Read Matthew 16-24-27
A disciple must be willing to live in the newness of his calling
A disciple is a new creation in Christ, called out of the darkness of this world into the marvelous light of God. He is expected to put off the old man (sin) and put on the new man (Christ). He is expected to be a good example of a believer – the world must see Christ through him. He is expected to live as light in this world that is full of darkness, and as salt, in this world that is undergoing serious decay. He is expected to show good works as God’s workmanship and builds a Christlike character. A disciple is an ambassador of Christ and must represent Him accordingly. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:20; 4:24, 1 Peter 2:9, Romans 6:4, Colossians 3:10, 1 Timothy 4:12
A disciple must be willing to live a life of overcoming
The path Christ set for his disciple is a narrow one, yet it is the path that leads to life eternal. This path can only be walked successfully by trusting the Way (Christ Himself). Walking along this way involves overcoming sin, Satan, self, and the world on a daily basis. When we say the world, we mean its systems and practices that are against God. A true disciple is a soldier of Christ and must be ready to put on the whole armor of God – the girdle of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Prayer and watchfulness are also essential in winning the battle a disciple must fight. As a soldier of Christ, a disciple must understand and overcome his enemies by the Power of God’s Spirit – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12-18.
A disciple does not entangle himself with the affairs of this life so that he can please his master, 2 Timothy 2:4. He does not conform to the standard of this world or loves it so that he does not make himself God’s enemy, Romans 12:2, 1John 2:15, James 4:4. A disciple is always sober and vigilant at all times, does not sleep as others, because he knows his adversary, the devil is walking about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” I Peter 5:8. He must be ready to fight the good fight of faith (that is, defend and preserve the truth of the word of God in all teaching and doctrines) 1 Timothy 6:12. The standard Christ set for anyone who wants to become his disciple is high, but you can do all things through Him who will strengthen you. Philippians 4:13.
Learn from their example
It is important to look at the life of those faithful servants of God whom he used as our scriptural example. Their example will give you more insight into the life of a disciple. Noah, considering the account of the flood, followed God’s instructions. Even though it has never rained on earth before, Noah trusted and obeyed God by building the ark. The same is true for Abraham the father of faith when God asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac, he obeyed fully. Now consider, If God asks you to give up that one thing you most cherished in your life for his sake, will you obey him? Moses was given a task like no other, building a tabernacle for God Almighty, he obeyed him fully. He built the tabernacle according to how he was commanded. Because of their total obedience to God’s instructions, Noah’s family was saved from the flood, Abraham did not lose his son, Isaac. Moses had a testimony of someone who obeyed God in all his ways. Again, one of the greatest costs of becoming a true disciple of Christ is willing to obey the master.
What about Job, even though he had a good reputation before God, God allowed his faith to be tried. Joseph’s faith was tried when he faced Potiphar’s wife and when he had the opportunity to take revenge on his brothers. The faith of Daniel and the three Hebrew men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) were tried. Daniel was thrown in the Lion den, and the three Hebrew men were thrown in the fire, yet they did not deny God. A true disciple of Christ must be prepared for his faith to be tried.
Now, let’s look at the life of the Apostles; they were hated, rejected, beaten, persecuted, thrown in jail, and killed in various ways. Some were thrown to the lions, some hung on the cross, some beheaded, some stoned to death, and some fried in hot oil. A true disciple must be ready to suffer. In all these, the apostles fought the good fight of faith, defended the truth, and were faithful to the end. Please read the following scriptural references for more insights into the life of the apostles – 2 Timothy 3: 10-12, I Peter 4:16, I Peter 3:14, I Peter 4:19, 2 Corinthians 6:4, I Timothy 4:10, Romans 5: 3
Do you desire to become Christ’s disciple? The master says, sit down and count the cost first. Because, when a believer does not count the cost, or inaccurately estimates the cost of becoming Christ’s disciple, that believer’s spiritual life may become shallow and incomplete. And due to the challenges and trials of faith, he or she may abandon the faith, and inevitably suffers great loss (eternal life). “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”, Luke 9:62. When you make a decision to follow Christ, no turning back. Remember Lot’s wife. Anyone who is not willing to forsake all that he has cannot be Christ’s disciple.