The Cost of Being a Disciple

APU is known for having phenomenal speakers each year, who come from all over the nation. One of our favorite speakers is Francis Chan, a pastor from the LA area. He comes each year for at least 5 chapels…I missed his 3 chapel series because of DC last Fall, so I was so glad he came today…

But it was also one of the most challenging messages I have heard in a long time. So I am going to share my thoughts here…

He talked about how success is often measured today in numbers…pastors love when their churches are growing, when there are tons of people attending each week…but he pointed out that in the Gospels, whenever Jesus had large crowds around, He was skeptical…

Luke 14:25-34 says, “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘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. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'”

Numbers are not everything…because not everyone is following Jesus genuinely…

This is a passage I have studied many a time before; but as usual, Francis posed a question to us all that made us think in entirely new ways…and I was astounded.

He said this: What if Jesus were in chapel today, speaking? What if He told us this parable, and then asked us to follow Him right then, to just walk out the door without telling anyone…leaving everything behind…would we follow Him? And if He told us that we had to pick up a cross, and walk with Him to a hill to be crucified (as the scripture says) to our old life…to everything we have known…would we do it?

The Event Center was quiet, as people pondered the meaning of this question…

Would I do that? Could I do what the disciples did in John 6, when things started to get tough?:

“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.'”

Then Francis began to talk about the salt portion of the scriptures. He even brought salt, as is his style…he always has great object lessons…anyway, he had salt that was good, and salt that was worthless.

He poured a pile of the good salt onto the podium, making a small pile. He then poured the bad salt (or the “white specks”) over that until the pile was quite large. He stood back, admired it, and said “Wow! That’s a great looking pile!” He then asked us what good that pile was, what it was worth to anyone…nothing. The Bible says that the white specks were not even good enough for the manure pile, because manure has redeeming value, and the white specks have none…

Not good enough for manure?

It seems that in Christianity today we have lost the meaning of what it truly means to be a disciple, a follower of Christ. Churches don’t mind having the worthless salt mixed in with the good salt as long as their churches are growing and the numbers are getting higher…but what does Jesus say? The opposite!

What is wrong with this picture? Churches should be helping people to grow, and to become true disciples of our Risen Lord…

In closing, he asked us to consider whether we were the salt, or just a white speck…

And that is something I am deeply pondering today.

I don’t know if I could just leave everything and everyone behind, like Jesus says so often in the Gospels…I don’t know that I could do it!

Yet, that is the cost of being a disciple…

(NOTE: If you ever want to watch an APU chapel, use the link in the sidebar. Our basketball games and other events are also available live and online.)

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