Throughout this year, one of the things that has be a prevailing thought for me is in the area of discipleship. One thing that I can attest to is that when a person truly becomes a disciple of Christ, is that it inevitably changes you. It’s practically an automatic thing that happens. This is the quintessential difference between someone who merely attends church, and someone who is committed to a life as a follower of Jesus.
Something that becomes apparent to a believer in Christ is that when you choose to follow him, you sacrifice yourself to receive what has been offered. When Jesus speaks to his disciples about what would soon take place in Matthew 16, he tells them that if they are committed to following him will cost them.
It Cost Them Their Identity: The first thing he tells the disciples that they must sacrifice is their identity. He tells them, “deny yourself (vs23).” This denial of self indicates a forgetting of one’s past, one’s own interests, affiliations and the like. So many people find this to be a hard thing. In fact, Christ goes on to say that they person who refuses to do so forfeits the thing he or she hopes to gain by calling him/herself disciple.
Your identity changes when you follow Christ. Have you ever noticed a person’s personality change once they begin to associate with a certain person or listen to a particular music artist’s music? Association brings about assimilation. That’s why mothers and fathers will often tell their children to beware of the company you keep. It’s bound to have an impact on how you think and act.
It Cost Them Their purpose: Whether you think you know yourself and what you’re goals in life are, this can and more than likely will change in great degree one you’ve made a commitment to follow Christ. Many of the twelve core disciples happened to be fishermen by trade. However, Jesus promised them that after a given time of following him, they’d no longer be fishermen, but fishers of men. Paul was a Pharisee, however, after his encounter with Christ he became a messenger and interpreter of the Law of Grace.
When Christ says to take up your cross, that’s not just a call to a new purpose in him, it’s also a call to recognize the price of being identified with Christ. Those who were true followers of Christ paid a price that meant often being mocked, scorned, abuse, taken advantage of, looking foolish, going against the grain of popularity and popular opinions.
To say, “I was born this way” or “that’s just how I am” only goes to reveal that you have not completely committed to following. If I say to myself it doesn’t matter if no one knows this one thing about me or I can still allow myself to go here or cheat a little in business over here. I can’t say it’s okay to hold on to this one way of thinking because then that means I am not fully accepting of all that the discipler is wanting to present to me.
If you are committed to the life of a disciple of Christ, there are no bones about it; you’re going to change. To believe otherwise is to deny him and all he wants you to have. Change in the eyes of Christ is never a negative thing. Christ always going to bring out the best in you, strengthening the best parts of you and diminishing the worst parts of you. It’s not a comfortable thing because you end up facing the parts of yourself that have to change. The reward, however is that the end product is always a much better and brighter you than the you that you were before you met him.
QUESTION: What change occurred in you when you chose to follow Christ?