What it means to be a Christian
Jesus said: "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple."
THREE TIMES over in this chapter, our Lord says these solemn words: "he cannot be My disciple." There are three conditions of discipleship. First, we must be prepared to put first things first; second, we must be willing to suffer daily crucifixion; third, we must be detached from all things, because we are attached to Christ. The conditions seem severe, but they must be fulfilled, if we would enter Christ's School.
- Disciple stands for learner. Our Lord is prepared to teach us the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; but it is useless to enter His class unless we have resolved to do as He says. Put first things first. When our Lord uses the word hate, He clearly means that the love we are to have for Him is to be so much greater, that comparatively our natural affection will be as if it were hate. No one could have loved His mother more than our Lord did. In His dying agony, His special thought and care was for her, but on three different occasions He put her aside. We are sometimes called to put aside those who are nearest and dearest, if their demands conflict with the claims of Christ. So it is that we are called upon to be. We are to learn from Jesus if we are to be his disciple [see Matt.11:29 where Jesus says, “Learn from me…” and John 13:15 where Jesus says, “For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you”]. Jesus always taught by example – by doing what He wanted his disciples to do.
- The daily cross. In each of us there is the “self”-principle, and for each of us there is a perpetual necessity to deny self. Some talk about bearing the cross in a glib fashion, but its true meaning is shame, suffering, and sorrow, which no one realizes but God, and which perhaps strikes deeper down into the roots of our being as we grow older. There is an opportunity in your life, in respect to some person or circumstance, for an ever-deepening appreciation of union with Christ in His death, and for which you must be daily prepared to surrender your own way and will. This will cause you to appear weak to the world, but true strength lies in self-denial and there are few that are able to practise it. It means letting the other person have his way even when it is in our power to have our way if by so doing, the other is rightly benefitted. Remember that our Lord Jesus had the power to save Himself [see Matthew 26:53], but He yielded to God’s will for that was more important to Him [Matthew 26:54] because it involved mankind’s salvation! You see, self-denial means letting the other think, say, and do even when it is in our power to deny him!
- Renunciation. It may be necessary to surrender all we have for Christ. Most of us are afraid of this thought because it causes us to feel insecure! However, if Christ is our trust, we need have no fear. Conversely, He may ask us to hold all as a steward [manager] or trustee for Himself and others. Remember that all that you have as His follower is placed in your hands for His use according to His purpose. If you think that you have acquired them by yourself, for your own use, then He can have no part in it. No one can lay down the rule for another. The main point to decide is this: "Am I willing to do what Christ wants me to do; to yield my will for Him to mould it, and my life for Him to work through it?" If so, all else will fall in place [see Matthew 6:33].