January 14
The Cost of Discipleship
Luke 9:18-25, 46-62; 14:25-35

KEY VERSE: Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. -- Luke 14:27

Someone has rightly said, "Life is difficult." That is certainly true about life in general. But it is even more true about the Christian life for to live for Christ is to embrace his demand for self-denial and sacrifice without whimpering.

Be clear about this: if you are trying to avoid sacrifice, you cannot run with Jesus! In genuine discipleship sacrifice is the name of the game. Am I speaking merely of worldly comfort and material things only? No, when Jesus is Lord he may even call upon you to give up your life for the kingdom of God.

While in Shell, Ecuador, recently, missionary Sandy Toomer flew me over the river sight where in the mid-1950s Nate Saint, Jim Elliott, and three other missionaries were martyred by savage Indians. The missionaries were trying to reach the Auca Indians with the gospel, and the effort cost them the supreme sacrifice of their lives. In Shell I trembled as I walked through the deteriorating old house known as the Nate Saint Home. Ron Grant, currently a missionary there, showed me the table where Nateís wife, Marge, listened to her husbandís last words on the radio before he embarked from the plane to die.

What is truly incredible is how God uses the sacrifices of his people to reach others with the good news of the gospel. Did Nate, Jim, and the others die in vain? Were their deaths a needless waste? Absolutely not! The wives and families of these five men refused to give up. Elizabeth Elliott risked her own life, and that of her children, to befriend the murderers of her husband, and God honored her sacrifice by moving that tribe of Indians to embrace the Christian faith.

I learned this firsthand when my host, pilot Sandy Toomer, landed our small plane on a grassy strip at a small village in the Rain Forest where some of these Indians still live. On the ground he introduced me to Dewey, one of the men who murdered the five missionaries. Dewey is now a Christian and the pastor of the little clapboard church in that village!

Dewey could not understand me, and I could not understand him. But when I said the word "Jesus," Dewey pointed upward and smiled. As we embraced each other tears spilled on my cheeks as I realized the two of us were truly brothers!

Yes, Jesus requires that we love nothing more than Him. Nothing. And when we are willing to love Him more than anything else, all things are possible, because He is God!