image by DreamingTheImpossible
Disciples make disciples. Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Yes, we’re disciples; yes, our goal is to make disciples. But let’s reverse engineer that process by examining how Jesus describes a disciple. Full disclosure warning—this concept first touches current followers. Future followers are, well, future followers. Let’s first deal with our present.
I explored some absolutes from Jesus that express the essence of following. Requirements. If we reject these, we reject him. A quick overview.
Disciples must imitate Jesus: “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
Disciples must give up family: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).
Disciples must die: “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).
Disciples must yield all: “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33)
Disciples must stick to Jesus’ teaching: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (John 8:31).
Pretty strong terms. And, we must do them to follow. Next questions: do we? Can we? Of course not. So, can anyone follow Jesus? Not if we take those words in a completely literal fashion. Let me suggest Jesus used hyperbole, intentional exaggeration for effect, like he did so often. Let us call these essential, vitally important targets of following Jesus.
So why exaggerate? I suspect Jesus wanted to blast us out of complacency, the all too human trait of finding the easy way. Out of thinking we can just add him to the other priorities we have, many of which are good, but can distract us from fully following. Out of thinking we’re more limited spiritually than he knows we are. Sometimes, God gives an impossible dream, not expecting us to reach it, but clearly expecting us to exceed what we thought were our abilities.
He may not be safe, but he is good. And he wants the best for us.
Kick Starting the Application
Have you ever attempted a goal you thought impossible, only to far exceed what you thought yourself capable of? Has that happened spiritually? Why or why not? What areas might God be whispering to you to step out beyond what you’re comfortable, or able to do? Are you willing to ask him, right now, to give you such a task?