In real estate deals the seller is required by law to disclose any reasonable information the buyer should know about the property. Has there been a fire? Disclose it. Did you repair a leaky roof? Let the buyer know.
Our Lord believes in full disclosure. He doesn’t act like an ethically challenged salesperson who will say anything to make a sale. Jesus doesn’t bait and switch. He is a thoroughly upright person, an honest communicator who tells it like it is.
To recruit more followers, some leaders might soften their demands. Not Jesus. His approach to prospective disciples? “Take up your cross and follow me.” Instead of an easy road, he offers a narrow one. Instead of self-indulgence, he calls for radical self-denial. Instead of pushing us to climb the ladder of success, he advocates becoming the servant of all. Instead of wielding a vengeful sword, he takes up a foot-washing towel.
For Jesus there is no compromise. You can’t serve two masters. Commit to following him, and there’s no turning back. Like a farmer plowing a field, you must look ahead. As he approached the cross Jesus plowed ahead with unwavering forward progress, saying, “I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day” (Luke 13:33).
The apostle Paul took the same approach. For him, the Christian life didn’t mean smooth sailing, but hardships and shipwrecks. Paul knew what it meant to revel and rest in the grace of God, but he also learned to fight the good fight of faith. He urged new Christians to remain true to the faith, bluntly explaining, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). For Paul, growing in Christ meant learning more about “the power of his resurrection,” yes—but also “participation in his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10).
Give It Up
When calling us to faith in him, Jesus holds nothing back: “Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:33). Yet, he also discloses the positive benefits of discipleship. For everything we give up, he promises multiplied blessings: “homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:30). Give it all up—then you get it back, and more!
To hard-hit Christians suffering persecution in the first century, the Lord offered strong reassurance: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown” (Revelation 2:10).
He says the same to us. When the current of culture flows hard against you, don’t give up. When others disappoint you and forsake Christ, keep going. Don’t fall by the wayside; stay by the Lord’s side. Contend earnestly for “the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 3). Don’t drop out or bail out. Don’t throw in the towel in defeat or throw up your hands in despair. Don’t quit on your friends and family. Don’t drop out of the church.
The cross leads to the crown. “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6, 7).
Be faithful. Keep going.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2017, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, ©2013, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.