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Devoted to Discipleship
Your new beginning!
Terry R. Baughman
“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it’” (Mark 8:34–35).
The pattern was repeated for several of the disciples as they became the original followers of Jesus. His call was simple and straight-forward, “Come, follow me.” Peter, Andrew, James, and John left their nets and fishing boats in the care of others and sought only to follow the One who called. Matthew forsook his occupation as a tax collector and followed Him. Phillip followed the call and invited Nathanael to meet the One who inspired their devotion. All left their various obligations to pursue a dream given by an unorthodox rabbi who walked into their life and called them with a vision, “I will make you ….” Each dreamed of becoming something more, fulfilling a purpose greater than anything they previously dared to imagine.
The bar was set higher. The expectation was clear. They could do it, but it would not be easy. It was attainable, but it would require effort. Discipleship demands a response and consistently requires greater devotion. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).
The very foundation of discipleship is devotion to service and a steadfast resolve to live a disciplined life of commitment to Christ’s calling. Discipleship is more than a membership card, a social association, or a self-help pledge. It necessitates abandonment of personal aspirations, forsaking of a life of leisure, and it constrains us to commitment. Discipleship requires devotion, and devotion is demonstrated by service. Our service is more than casual church involvement or an occasional Sunday attendance, it is a covenant of conviction and a consistent commitment to a lifestyle of Christian character.
Discipleship demands a reassignment of priorities, the firm persuasion of total surrender to Christ’s calling. Family is important but discipleship takes precedence. Jesus said, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29 NIV). It sounds harsh and uncaring, especially in the light of the Decalogue which commands us, “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). Jesus did not come to destroy the law, but His calling draws us to the altar of sacrifice and the cross of commitment. The calling becomes more important than any other authority in life, our allegiance to discipleship more vital than our loyalty to relatives. The disciplines of discipleship compel us to forsake all to follow Him.
At the beginning of the year or in the face of any fresh start there must be a commitment to change and a devotion to discipleship. It is more than self-improvement resolutions. It is a resolve to accountability, a pledge to the one who knows our weaknesses, our faults, and our propensity to failure. He has called us to a path of righteousness and a life of service. It is time to make that decision for Him!
“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them” (Isaiah 42:9 NKJV).