…whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
I think what takes my mind away from this kind of discipleship is my misapplication of the two stories in the text that the Lord Jesus gave to explain what He wants his disciples to do. I usually take them to mean that I need to have "all my ducks in a row" before starting any work for the Lord. But that seems to go against Christ's own application of these stories in Luke 14:33.
Let's take a look at what Christ said about Luke 14:33-type discipleship:
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
The tower-building example reminds me of something that happened several years ago while my family and I were living in the Middle East. A barber in our neighborhood had a robust business in a simple shop. He was friendly and courteous and never lacked for customers.
One day, while seated in his chair with a cape wrapped around my neck, shielding my shirt from the little hairs falling all over the place, my friend the barber began telling me of his plans to update the premises.
“I am going to do a complete remodel job,” he told me excitedly. “I want to make this a place my children will be proud of!” Then he told me all the many (expensive) improvements he had in mind.
“Keep it simple,” I told my friend. “Your customers are happy with the place as it is. No need to go into debt to remake this place.” But he didn’t want to hear that. He had big plans!
The barber shop closed for a week for the remodel. One week turned into two, and then three. It looked like he may never reopen the place. This whole situation brought shame, that all-important social factor of the East, into the mix.
My friend was slow to show his face in the area. One day, I saw him outside of his house and asked him how things were going. “I have a few relatives that may lend me money,” he replied nervously. “If I get that, everything will be ok.”
This is the picture Christ is painting in His first example. Starting a work you cannot finish is a bad idea. The second story takes a different angle of attack, but leaves the listener with the same feeling: I must avoid the shame of not finishing my work, of not winning my battles.
Now with that idea in place, Luke 14:33 makes a powerful and straightforward statement. The only way to avoid the shame of unfinished construction and failed warfare is to leave off self-dependence and draw upon the Lord’s resources. Whilst trusting myself, my strength, my reasoning I am not trusting Him. I am not being a disciple. I am leaving my spiritual work undone.
Christ WANTS us to be disciples. This passage in Luke 14 clears up what discipleship isn’t so that we are freed up to BE DISCIPLES!
Are you a disciple like this? Are you finding all you need in The Lord? You can! I can! And we can be disciples who make disciples everywhere. That is Great Commission living.