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Inconvenient Discipleship

Inconvenient Discipleship

I’ve been posting about Jesus’ experience at a banquet with some Pharisees. The Lord is trying to explain some kingdom principles to them. But, because of their superior attitudes, most of them are not receiving this teaching. You may want to read Luke 14:15-26 before continuing.

Jesus has just talked about not throwing parties simply to get invited to better ones. Suddenly, one of the Pharisees excitedly interrupts.

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Luke 14:15 NIV

He’s talking about what we know as the Second Coming of Christ. He’s anticipating a good time in the presence of God. Unfortunately, there’s only one way to get there, and these religious leaders are in the process of rejecting Him.

The Lord answers by giving them a parable. He wants to get across to them that just because you’re invited, doesn’t mean you’ll attend. You have to answer the call of the Messiah to be a part of the kingdom.

The parable is about a rich man who invited many people to a great feast. They all replied that they were coming. On the day of the banquet, he sent his servant to call them all to come.

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’”

Luke 14:18-20 NIV

Hmmm. It sounds a lot like God’s people today. Everyone is busy with their own petty concerns. No one has any time to do anything for the Lord.

We have to be very careful not to allow the distractions of life to squeeze out the things of the spirit. How long can we ignore the voice of the Holy Spirit before it starts to negatively affect our life?

In the parable, the rich man made it a point to fill up his house with everyone he could find. He made sure there was no room for the foolish friends who refused his call.

Jesus makes it clear that He has to be the priority in the lives of His disciples. At the end of this parable, the Lord turns to the crowds, and begins to make this point.

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

Most people get tripped up by this verse because they don’t understand the usage of the word hate in the Scripture. This word has no emotional attachment to it. It’s just like the word agape, used to convey the idea of love. Hate is a choice rather than an emotion.

This word hate means a choice to not participate with. There are times when being a disciple of Christ means that you choose not to participate in every family event or social invitation. Maybe it’s a baby shower or a graduation party that’s held on a Sunday morning.

Christ is saying that if you choose to participate with your family or friends over the Lord, then it shows that you’re not truly a disciple. You might be a believer who loves God. But, you have yet to choose the high road of discipleship.

A disciple is more than just a student. You can miss a few classes and still graduate with an “A”. Discipleship is totally different.

Here’s why. A student wants to learn what the teacher knows. A disciple wants to become what the teacher is. That only happens as you walk the same road as Christ.

Following the Lord can be very inconvenient at times. However, if you want the same results as Christ, you must live as He does.

Question: How would you describe your discipleship toward Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Do You Have a Disciple’s Heart

FishingI want to take a few posts to talk about what it means to truly be a disciple of Christ. I think that in this generation we have a lot of students, but very few disciples.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
John 1:40-42a

Let me introduce you to one of Jesus’ first disciples. His name was Andrew. He gives us insight onto what discipleship is all about.

The first thing I notice about him is that the name Andrew means brave.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13

In practice, disciples of Christ must be courageous. After we’re saved, we’re called to leave our comfort zones for Christ.

We know some things about Andrew from the Scripture. He was Peter’s brother and therefore a fisherman by trade. He grew up by the Sea of Galilee involved in the family business.

Yet when he heard John the Baptist’s teaching he followed John out to the desert and became one of his disciples. At one point, John introduced him to the Messiah; so he left John and followed Jesus.

What we find is that change is one of the hardest things to do. But remember, Andrew was a man of courage. If we’re going to follow Christ, then we’re going to have to rely upon the Lord’s courage in us.

I’ve posted in the past about what a disciple is. Disciples and students are very different. A student wants to learn what’s being taught. A disciple wants to become what his teacher is.

The first thing that Andrew does is to go to his brother, Simon. They met together. In the course of their meeting he tells Simon that they’ve found the Messiah.

The words we use are interesting. Andrew said, “We found the Lord.” We talk the same way sometimes. The funny thing is that Jesus wasn’t lost…we were.

The truth is that Andrew was seeking something.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Matthew 7:7-8

In his search, Andrew first followed John the Baptist, and then he followed Jesus. As a result he’s found the answer to his need. Now he wants to tell someone about it. Andrew’s first choice was his brother Simon.

This leads us to an important truth. Disciples of Christ tell others what they found. What have you found in Christ? People say they have a hard time telling others about Christ. Just tell what you found.

Andrew spent time with Christ. He saw and heard the anointing. That’s why he could say definitively, “We found the Anointed One.”

Who do you tell? An evangelist would say, “anyone within talking distance.” There is an anointing for that, but most believers aren’t in that category.

90% of believers are Andrews. He went to his own sphere of influence. That means family, friends, and co-workers.

Take a cue from Andrew. Rely on the strength and courage of the Holy Spirit within you. The next time you feel His urging, tell what you’ve found in Christ.

Question: What’s your experience in sharing your faith with others?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2016 in Ministry, The Gospel

 

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Christians and Disciples

 

ClassIt’s always interesting when you see something happening for the first time.  I may be dating myself, but I remember the first time I saw a man walk on the moon.  I also remember the first time I ever saw a computer in someone’s home.  Firsts are important.

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
 Acts 11:25-26

In this verse we see the first time the word Christian was used.  It was coined in a place called Antioch.  If you read the chapter that this is in you’ll find that this church was so active, news of them reached all the way to Jerusalem.  They were doing an incredible work for Christ.

But probably the most important thing to see is that the disciples were called Christians.  What exactly is a disciple?  I’ve heard many who say that a disciple is simply a student.  That description is close, but not entirely accurate.

A student is someone who wants to learn what somebody else is teaching.  They want to know what you know.

A disciple, on the other hand, is person who follows someone else in order to be like that person.  It’s not enough just to understand what they teach.  The disciple wants to be what the teacher already is.

The ones in the above verse were people who wanted to be like Jesus.  They didn’t only want to talk about Him or read about Him.  They wanted to do the same work that the Lord did when He walked this earth.

It’s sad that over time the impact of the word Christian has changed.  Now, anyone who is even remotely affiliated with a church is called Christian.

We need to understand what following Christ is all about.  It’s more than just a head knowledge of what the Lord did and said.  It must be a desire to minister the same way He did.

That should be our goal if we call ourselves a Christian.  I need to ask myself – am I just using that name, or would the people of Antioch recognize me as a Christian?

Question: Why has the word Christian become so watered down?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2015 in Ministry, Revival, The Church

 

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