Thursday, February 23, 2023

Discipleship - No sacrifice = No success

One of the last instructions of Jesus Christ to his disciples was to go and make disciples of all nations. The ask was to teach these disciples to obey his commands (Matt. 28:19-20). A disciple cannot be passive in life but active in making disciples and teaching them to obey the teachings of Jesus Christ.  

Today's challenge is that all resources, zoom or live meetings, and messages are not moving people to acceptance and obedience. We hear a lot weekly and know the theory very well. We may be able to take a class or preach at a conference, but in our personal lives, we miss application. It may look like the bald man trying to sell hair oil that cures baldness.    

True discipleship moves us beyond information to a practical level which involves sacrifice and self-denial and is essential. Unfortunately, we often desire to do everything within our comfort zone and ensure everything is secure and will not go the extra mile. Jesus taught us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. When we deprive ourselves of our desires and put God's desires before our own, we are living out our discipleship and following in the footsteps of Jesus. We are also living out our faith and showing the world what it means to be a faithful follower of Jesus. When we deny ourselves of things we desire, it teaches us to rely on God instead of ourselves and helps us stay focused on our ultimate goal of glorifying God. All successful pursuits of accomplishing God's plan and purpose involved sacrifice and self-denial.

Adoniram Judson was 25 years old when he went to serve as a missionary in Burma. At 61, he died on the way back on board a ship in the Bay of Bengal and was buried at sea, having spent 37 years abroad with only one trip back home to America. It took Judson 12 years to make 18 converts. When Judson began his mission in Burma, he set a goal of translating the Bible and founding a church of 100 members before his death. By his death, he had accomplished those goals and more. Judson left the translated Bible and a half-completed Burmese-English dictionary, established about 100 churches, and had over 8,000 believers. One of his famous quotes is –

"There is no success without sacrifice. If you succeed without sacrifice, it is because someone has suffered before you. If you sacrifice without success, it is because someone will succeed after."

True discipleship involves sacrifice, and we cannot make progress without it. If you feel stagnant or stuck in your Christian life, it could be that you know much theory but need to improve in practical implementation. Discipleship comes with a cost, and are you willing to take small steps to see God's plans unfold in your life?   If we do not have an eternal perspective and temporary outlook toward our life, it will not be easy to give up our comforts. When we realize what our master had told us and how short is our life in this world compared to life after death, it will become easier to deny ourselves and accept sacrifices to accomplish kingdom goals.

We can start with small steps. We can join the group going out to give tracts and do street evangelism. Start meeting someone consistently and help them in their spiritual journey. Join a team going on a mission trip. When an opportunity to serve requires sacrifice, go ahead and do not postpone it.  

Remember what Judson said, "there is no success without sacrifice." 

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