One day, I was sharing with a young Christian man a very simple yet significant truth found in Luke 14:26 that if any man comes to Jesus, and hates not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be a disciple of Jesus. In which he retorted, "Where is that in the Bible?" "In the gospel of Luke," I replied, which he then retaliated, "No way, that's not in the Bible!" I assured him it was and that it was also in the book of Matthew and Mark. I then asked him how long he had been a Christian. To my surprise, he replied that he'd been brought up all his life in a Christian family. This amazed me. I wondered how it is that one could grow up in a Christian church, live in a Christian home and yet fail to understand the clearly prescribed qualifications to following Jesus. It caused me to wonder if he truly knew the message of surrender, and the strong instructions regarding commitment as seen in the scriptures on following Christ. I questioned why he had failed to grasp the fundamental truth of sacrifice as the prerequisite to being a Christian.
Had he not familiarised himself with Christ's expectations and standard of commitment? Can anyone confidently commit to taking up a cross where the knowledge of its weight is disclosed? Yet most happily accept Christ's call to follow as though the cross is but a feather to be carried on a road paved by pillows. Only to realise, the way to Calvary is a road made up of whips and beatings under a cruel cross. Leading only then to a commitment that is either cut short or compromised. Can someone confidently dare to tread this road, believing it can be walked successfully while being half-hearted? One will not survive the journey of the crucified unless they are willing to die. One cannot possibly dodge the cross like an obstacle and hope to find the resurrection. Nor will anyone experience what eye has not seen nor live the impossible without a fervent and unwavering faith. Imagine for a moment the Israelites turning back, that split second just before the parting of the Red Sea, or on the seventh day giving up just at that last lap before the wall came crumbling down in Jericho. What faith would they have testified of, or miracle witnessed, at that crucial hour had they turned back. Faith rightly grounded, patiently endures through every season, to only bring forth fruit.
On many occasions, Jesus makes it clear on what a man must do to follow Him. Jesus makes sure that the people He encountered have a proper understanding of the kind of commitment He desired for the disciples, if they were to take up the life of a follower. He knew the significance of setting up the right foundation on which the future of true and genuine faith will be built. The reason why so many Christians reveal cracks in their faith has to do a lot with the fact that a right foundation has not been laid. A strong and firm foundation brings about a confident and certain faith.
Did you ever truly consider the cost and whether you had the endurance and a love steadfast enough to see your confession through? Why so many Christians backslide may be a result of never hearing or fully understanding the words of Jesus when He said, "Unless a seed dies it cannot bring forth fruit", or when He said, "Anyone who wants to come after me must take up their cross." Why so many come short of the finish line could be because they never considered what the apostle Paul really meant when he said, to run in such a way, that only one receives a prize (1Cor 9:24). Or what Jesus really meant when He said, "Anyone who comes to me must deny himself, and must lose their life to find life" (Matt 16:24-26). You cannot find a better picture of these words than Abraham offering Isaac, his only son, for a sacrifice (that which was most precious to him, more than his own life) as his act of obedience through faith. In contrast to the rich young ruler who walked away sad as a result of disobedience when asked to sell everything (Mark 10:17-27).
Sometimes when a person desires your acceptance to an invitation, they dress up the occasion to appeal to your tastes in order to influence your decision. Although this may be the case with many evangelists and churches today regarding the presentation of the gospel and the souls of men, this was definitely not the case with Jesus. Jesus never lured anyone into a false impression, through the use of enticing and passionate words, begging at a confession. Often, misleading words have an ability to manipulate or lead to an uninformed or misguided decision. Only to reveal in time, a weak foundation supporting a frail faith that's ready to collapse. The significance of this truth is throughout the New Testament. Jesus likens it as a man building a house on sand.
Most Christians faith is built on the foundation of the initial experience of becoming a Christian, which most would testify felt more like walking on clouds and being in heaven. Somewhat like a honeymoon without the years and challenges of marriage. Yet after every honeymoon is the manifestation of those vows and that binding confession. So it is with faith, the real walk is from clouds to the hill of Calvary. So many drag their feet at the first sight of rain to cry, "I never asked for this." And when the sun doesn't come up and lightning strikes, people begin to crumble at the sight of the trial and hardship ahead. How many confidently take large big steps forward, for after all they knew this is what they signed up for?
It's unfortunate that today's salvation message is more of a 'welcome' rather than a 'command'. This is not to say that the good news of eternal life should not be welcoming - the problem is it's not just that...it's just as much the command to obey and heed. You must be saved! It's a welcome to forgiveness and mercy, but also a command to repent and turn from sin. The confession to walk in His steps is the commitment to walk as He walked and live as He lived.
Look at His Life. Did He love His mother more than God? Did He love his brethren more than God? Did He love Himself more than God? Watch carefully where His feet took him, and then ask yourself: "Is that where I really want to go?