What It Takes To Follow Christ
Today, in principle, the call of the lord Jesus has not changed. He still says, “Follow Me,” and adds, “Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Cf. Luke 14.33). In practice, however, this does not mean for majority of Christians a physical departure from their home or their job. It implies rather an inner surrender of both, and a refusal to allow either family or ambition to occupy the first place in our lives. Now there can be no following without a previous forsaking.
To follow Christ is to renounce all lesser loyalties. In the days when he lived among men on earth, this meant a literal abandonment of home and work. Simon and Andrew “Left their nets and followed him”. Similarly, James and John “left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him” (Cf. Matthew 4:19-22). This is what it takes to follow Christ; leaving all that you have, just like Matthew, who heard Christ’s call while he was sitting at the tax office collecting taxes, left everything, and rose and followed him. (Cf.Luke 5;27-28).
Let me be more explicit about denial or sacrifice which cannot be separated from following Jesus Christ.
The Guards To Follow Jesus
First, there must be a renunciation of sin. This, in a word, is repentance. It is the first part of Christian conversion. It cannot be bypassed in any circumstance. Repentance and faith belong together. We cannot follow Christ without forsaking sin. Repentance is a definite turn from every thought, word, deed and habit which is known to be wrong.
It is not sufficient to feel pangs of remorse or to make some kind of apology to God. It is an inward change of mind and attitude towards sin which leads to a change of mind. There can be no compromise here. There may be sins in our lives which we do not think we ever could renounce: but we must be willing to let them go as we cry to God for deliverance from them. If you are in doubt regarding what is right and what is wrong, what must go and what may be retained, do not be too greatly influenced by the customs and conventions of Christians you may know.
Second, there must be a renunciation of self. In order to follow Christ, we must not only forsake isolated sins, but renounce the very principle of self-will which lies at the root of every act of sin. To follow Christ is to surrender to him the rights over our own lives. It is to abdicate the throne of our heart and do homage to him as our King.
The Renunciation of self is vividly
This renunciation of self is vividly described by Jesus in three ways; It is to deny ourselves; “if any man would come after me, let him deny himself.” (Cf. Matthew 26:72). The next is to take up the cross; “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (cf. Matthew 16:24). If we had lived in Palestine and seen a man carrying his cross, we would at once have recognized him as a convicted prisoner being led out to pay the supreme penalty.
Every day, the christian has to die To Renounce The Sovereignty
Every day, the christian has to die. He has to renounce the sovereignty of his own will. Every day, he has to renew his unconditional surrender to Jesus Christ. The last is to lose our life; “Whoever loses his life…. will save it.” (Cf. Matthew 16:25). The word for “life” here denotes neither our physical existence nor our soul, but our self.
The man who say no to Christ, therefore, loses himself. This does not mean that he loses his individuality, however, his will is indeed submitted to Christ’s will, but his personality is not absorbed into Christ’s personality. On the contrary, as we shall see later, when the Christian loses himself, he finds himself and he discovers his true identity. So in order to follow Christ, we have to deny ourselves, crucify ourselves and lose ourselves.
The full, inexorable demand of Jesus Christ
The full, inexorable demand of Jesus Christ is now laid bare. He does not call us to a sloppy half- heart, but to a vigorous, absolute commitment. He calls us to make him our Lord. Jesus made it very clear that, if you want to be His disciple, then you must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him. He made it clear, and in doing so, to use the proverbial statement taken from a tennis game; He put the ball in our court.
What will we do with it? Granted, it is a high-powered ball-a difficult serve, but not impossible to return, will we let it go by, will we not return it, and lose what we could have won-the highest of all callings? What fools we would be! What profit would it be gain anything else, even the whole world, and lose our lives and their purpose.
At its simplest effect, Christ’s call, “Follow me”, calls on us to leave our all to join in his mission, hence he said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily to follow me(Cf. Luke 9:23). He asked men and women for their personal allegiance. He invited them to learn from him, to obey his words and to identify themselves with his cause. What about the cost? The cost is denying self, which in this day and age, even in Christendom, is not popular teaching.
Cost is death to self, when in our times many people are trying to discover self and take care of self. The cost is to follow Jesus as a habit of life for the rest of your Life!