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Thursday, December 8, 2011

A disciple...

"Another of the disciples said to Him 'Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.'  But Jesus said to him, 'Follow me and allow the dead to bury their own dead.'" -- Matthew 8:21-22.  Jesus, giving an example of what it means to be a follower of Him.  Here we see a glimpse of the commitment Christ calls us to.  We see a glimpse of what it means to be a disciple.

A disciple.  I have always found this to be a really interesting passage based on what Jesus tells this particular person.  Our initial reaction might be why does Jesus seem to be so insensitive to the fact that this man wanted to bury his father?  However, what we have to understand is that unlike today, when someone died in Jesus' time, they had to be buried immediately.  Therefore, chances are this man's father was simply sick and had not actually died yet.  But even so, one might ask shouldn't this be something Jesus should have been sensitive to?  It's a fair question to ask and the fact is I have had to deal with it personally within the last two years in my own life.  Therefore, as we explore this question I can speak from personal experience and we can get a better idea of what it really means to not just be a Christian, but to be a disciple of Christ.

A disciple. A disciple is more than just a follower.  A disciple is someone who strives to mimic everything about the person he or she is following. This of course involves commitment.  Commitment by default might mean having to give up certain things and leave certain things behind for something bigger and better.  This might include family.  The situation described here is an example of said commitment. As I mentioned, I struggled with leaving family behind because of my commitment to Christ.  Prior to my coming to the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver, I had a very sick father.  In addition to that there were other circumstances I was dealing with in my life.  When I made the decision to attend here almost two years ago, it was not made lightly.  I asked myself do I stay in California or do I go knowing my father will be taken care of.  Of course I chose the latter.  The timing was right.  The circumstances were right and looking back I know God brought the circumstances I was dealing with to take me somewhere bigger and better but the choice was mine.  Of course I chose the latter.  On a side note, my father did end up passing away around this time last year.  I was fortunate to have made it to his side before he passed by the grace of God but it did not deter me from my commitment to Christ and what I am doing here at BVBID.  My point is this is the sort of commitment Christ calls us to in order to be a disciple.

A disciple.  In Luke 14:26, Jesus enlightens us further with the commitment He expects from us.  He tells us that if we don't hate our father, mother, brother, and sister we cannot be His disciple.  What is He saying?! Is Jesus asking us to literally hate our family?! The answer is no! The word hate as used here means to have preference for one thing over another.  The fact is Christ comes before our very family.  This is easy when your whole family are faithful Christians.  However, when they are not, that is when discipleship is really tested.  The fact is sometimes following Christ means having to leave our family behind despite what they might think.  Prior to my move to Denver, there was one or two individuals who tried to use my dad's situation to stop me from coming to Denver but I knew with the way things were working out, this is what God was calling me to.  When we choose Christ, we will sometimes face opposition but this is part of being committed to Christ and part of being a disciple.

A disciple.  So what about you?  How is your commitment to Christ?  Are you simply a follower or are you a disciple?  Is there something holding you back from following Christ the way you should?  Is there something bigger that God is calling you to?  Is something holding you back from responding to that call?  Whatever the case, my encouragement to you is this.  Realize that when God calls us to something, it is ALWAYS because He has something better than we ever imagined in store for us.  While it was difficult leaving my dad and family behind, words cannot begin to describe how blessed I have been since I made the move to Denver.  The greatest blessing I have received is that of a relationship with the most amazing girl that I would never have met had I chosen not to respond to God's call for me to come to Denver.  I am not saying that commitment to Christ is always going to be easy or that it will always be a smooth road.  Discipleship involves trusting Jesus even when the going gets tough.  In Matthew 8:23-27, we see that those who followed Jesus were caught in a storm.  Jesus calmed the storm.  Within the last two years, my commitment to Christ has been tested through a series of storms.  Within the last two years I have seen my dad pass away, I lost a pet that I had for ten years and to top it off I lost another dear family member.  Our commitment to Christ will have its share of trials but we cannot let it get in the way of not only being a follower of Christ but being a disciple of Christ.  As I close, I leave you with the words of Paul to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 4:17 -- "For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."  Today, Christ is calling you to follow Him.  As Christians, we cannot forget that according to Matthew 28:18-20, our duty is to make disciples by baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all that Christ has commanded.  Don't let anything hold you back, respond to the call today.  Trust God, you won't regret it.


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