Discipleship is a wonderful privilege and an opportunity to tap from the infinite resources of our Lord in our journey to becoming what God has proposed us to be. However, there is a price to be paid by the disciple for this privilege. Jesus Christ taught about the cost of being His disciple (Luke 14:25ff). Jesus warned that every would-be disciple should count not the cost lest he takes a blind leap only to discover that he is ill-prepared to pay the price. We shall consider briefly what this means for a disciple.

The Cost of Discipleship

1. Separation: Our Lord Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14: 26). The love for our family members illegitimate, but Jesus calls His disciples here to love Him so supremely and to subject their love and loyalty to family tot his supreme love. The disciple must love Jesus Christ and be committed to Him to the extent that obeying Christ comes first before any other family considerations.

In most African communities, as it was in Jesus’ community, family ties are so strong that the individual is not at liberty to make a decision independently of the family. An individual’s loyalty is to his family. This loyalty was so strong that it stood in the way of loyalty to God and, therefore, had to be dealt with decisively. Jesus’ family members sought to control Him in this manner, but He resisted this for the higher purpose of accomplishing God’s purpose in His life.

The disciple also has to separate from self (Luke 14:26). The self-life may manifest itself in self-advertisement. This increases a good impression of ourselves before others. Such breeds false spirituality and a greed for fame. A true disciple, Jesus says, must give up such quest for complete allegiance to Him, i.e. Jesus Christ.

2. A Life Under Observation: The life of the disciple is constantly being observed by others, so he cannot afford to live carelessly. Jesus Himself was constantly watched: “One Sabbath when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched” (Luke 14:1). Jesus claimed to be different and because of this claim to uniqueness, people watched every move He made and every word He said to judge Him by His claims.

In this same manner, every Christian is living under the watchful eyes of people in his community who want to judge him by his claims. He is, therefore, not at liberty to live as he pleases. He has no choice but to live a disciplined life by the teachings of Jesus Christ.

3. A Life of Suffering: Jesus said: “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). The cross is a symbol of suffering and death. Jesus was saying here that anyone who was not willing to be committed to Him to the point of death was not worthy of the call to the life of discipleship. Jesus, who called the disciples to bear the cross, Himself bore the cruel treatment on the cross as an expression of His commitment to God’s plan of salvation.

The life of Jesus was full of sorrow as Prophet Isaiah had foretold (Isaiah 53:3). However, His suffering was not in vain, for, because of His obedience to the Father, His name was exalted above every other name (Philippians 2:9). His suffering has become an example to us and which shows that the disciple’s route to glory is suffering (1 Peter 2:23). This is a high price to pay. That is why the disciple is encouraged to remain steadfast (James 1:2-4).

The cost of discipleship begins with the willingness to renounce all other loyalties in preference to Jesus Christ. We must be willing to obey Him even if when doing so will cost our most cherished relationships, careers, wealth and all other similar considerations. The disciple is, however, not without divine assurance: “And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

God’s  Provision for Discipleship

In His infinite mercy, God has made adequate provision for discipleship.

1. Jesus: The Model: God sent Jesus to live among us as a model of what God wants every human being to be like. His life has become a perfect example of God’s expectations for humanity. Mankind is, therefore, without any excuse to claim that he lacks knowledge. In being a model for us, Jesus Christ adopted a life objective that was in complete agreement with the Word of God. He told His disciples, that: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work” (John 4:34). His life objective was, therefore, the same as God’s objective. This is how we ought to live, to be mature Christians.

Jesus was so committed to God that He was willing to pay any price. He loved God so supremely that nothing else mattered to Him. In doing this, He has become our example of what it means to love the Lord with all our hearts and might. Jesus also loved the Word of God and had an insatiable appetite for it. He submitted Himself to its authority.

Jesus humbled Himself and became a servant and taught His disciples to humble themselves and serve one another (Matthew 20:26ff). He also depended on the Father for the provision of all things.

Our Lord loved people above things. People were in the Centre of his ministry since their redemption was the primary reason God sent Him (John 3: 16). He made Himself approachable and available to all categories of people, in which they lived. In so doing He placed a very high value on people.

Jesus had a forgiving spirit and taught His disciples to forgive boundlessly. He forgave even His enemies because they were more precious to Him than what they did to Him. He did not allow Himself to be trapped in bitterness which destroys love. His life, therefore, provides us with a model for discipleship. Jesus Christ is our standard of excellence.

2. The Bible: Our Guide: The Bible is our guide to God’s plan of salvation., All that is in the Bible is what God intends for us to know. Since the Bible is God’s Word, God speaks to us through it and if we are obedient, we shall remain firm in times of dizzying changes around us. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians: “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed onto you”(2 Thessalonians 2:15).

The writer of Hebrews says: “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard so that we do not drift away’ (Hebrews 2:1). The Bible is significant for our salvation and nurture in the faith; Paul, in writing to Timothy, stressed this: “And how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which can make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

Given the significance of the Bible, God has instructed. This is an important aid to the disciple who truly desires to know and do the will of God.

3. The Holy Spirit: The Enabler: Disciple to live the Christian life. That is the type of life that lives the Christian life successfully without the aid of the Holy Spirit. In 1(Corinthians 2:4ff, Paul puts side by side his power of God through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit not understanding of the truth of God. The significance of the disciples to remain in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:8).

4. The Church: A Team: The Church is another gracious provision for the disciple. The church members, as a team, provide support forever for Christians to live the Christian life. Some Christians, however, erroneously feel that there is no point in church membership.

The New Testament recognizes two types of churches:

(i) the universal church which Jesus Christ died for and every believer is a member (Ephesians 5:25);

(ii) the local church which has a visible and identifiable membership in a specific locality (1 Corinthians 1:2).

The New Testament practice is that every believer is expected to be a member of a local church.

The local church helps its members to maintain purity, order, discipline and to share responsibilities. The local church is also an institution of instruction and, through its leadership, provides spiritual nurture to all its members. Pastoral care, fellowship and corporate worship are all intended to build the disciple in the faith. Some responsibilities of the believer, such as caring for the needy and missions, can best be done through a local church. The church is also understood to be a group of baptized believers, on earth.

5. Prayer: The Bible admonishes believers to pray always, and associates great spiritual successes to prayers. Prayer helps the believer to depend and trust in God, and to know God’s will. Furthermore, prayer is a source of spiritual power and a means of fellowship with God. Prayer is also an opportunity for the believer to recognize, through the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s purpose and the needs of fellowmen (Romans 8:26).

Prayer relieves the disciple from anxieties of life as he talks to God about all his fears, problems and joy. Prayer also gives hope as the petitioner trusts in the faithfulness of God and His love. In a sense, prayer is a special time in which the petitioner receives special counsel from the Almighty God for his needs and anxieties. This is, therefore, God’s special provision for the disciple in his Christian life