Bible Reading: Hebrews 10:19-39
I’ve really liked soccer for many years, but there are parts of it that I totally hate. I totally hate how players who have previously sworn and made beautiful claims about loyalty to a club will suddenly make a celebrated U-turn and go and play for a known rival of the club, simply because the original club is going through a bad patch or they get offered more money and things like that. I know it’s unchristian, but I’ve found myself watching games and hoping for some people to get their legs broken or suffer some major misfortune, or stuff like that.
If we’ll be honest, our generation really doesn’t understand the word loyalty- or has developed its own convenient definition of the word. And if we’re not careful, we carry that watered-down definition of loyalty into all walks of life- our attitude towards employers and employees, our attitudes towards spouses and relationships, our attitude towards churches and fellow believers, and sadly, our attitude towards following Jesus.
We’ve previously defined a disciple as someone who is committed to following and learning from another, fully embracing the trainings and disciplines therein. The strength and anchor of discipleship is loyalty.
Disciples are not people that show up because it feels good and only when it feels good. Disciples hold a commitment that keeps them through thick and thin.
The value that disciples place on the cause is always greater than the cost. That’s what keeps them going.
Following Jesus comes at a cost. Being a faithful disciple of a church community, or of a leader that God puts in your life comes at a cost. And the cost might land heavier at different times and seasons. Showing up faithfully can be harder sometimes. Serving can be more costly sometimes. Adversity for the sake of our commitment rises sometimes. But through it all, disciples are mindful of the cause over and above the cost. Disciples don’t get distracted off following.
I have set the Lord always before me…I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:8 NKJV
Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world 2 Timothy 4:10 NKJV
The devil will work round the clock to undermine the cause and exaggerate the cost of following Jesus and of the causes he has connected us to.
Our generation loses out on one of the most beautiful privileges of discipleship because it doesn’t feel good- the privilege to be corrected. We don’t like correction! We like to be told how well we’re doing, to keep aspiring to perspire, but never to be corrected. Any real training is not only going to be about feel good moments, it’s also going to be about grinding through more difficult moments.
If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place. Pro 24:10 MSG
A good picture of the disciple-making process is how a baker produces a product. He starts out with the raw materials, and puts them through some turning, some heating and all that to bring forth the beautiful product. We are never going to be people of strong godly character, anchored in faith, hope and love, truly disciplined and assured without embracing the entire disciple making process of God in its fullness.
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 2 Timothy 2:3 NKJV
Is your heart posture one that can be corrected with ease? Is your sense of value more about the cause or the cost? Is your sense of loyalty in the lead of your commitments as a disciple?
But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust;
if he cuts and runs, I won’t be very happy. Hebrews 10:38 MSG
We live in a broken world, and I totally realize that people have suffered hurts and betrayal of trust. I do not however think this should lead us to be second-guessing the fresh opportunities God brings into our lives.
I believe that our ultimate loyalty as christians is to Jesus who never let anyone down. But being disciples of Jesus will never just exist in the abstract. It will make us disciples of a church family, and disciples of people that he sets over us. I don’t think the question of loyalty is valid when such sub-relationships have steered off a Jesus-cause. You cannot for example allow a church community lead you into immorality or sin in the name of being loyal, but I think that is very different from holding back in the places that God has planted us because it doesn’t feel great in every moment.
Jesus responded, “Why do you keep looking back to your past and have second thoughts about following me? If you turn back you are not fit for God’s kingdom.” Luke 9:62 TPT
When you think about Jesus mandate- it is that we be made disciples. He is committed to that journey with you. It will sometimes be a journey of highs, but sometimes a journey of lows. It will sometimes be a journey of many words. It will sometimes be a journey in silence. It will sometimes be a journey of affirmation. It will sometimes be a journey of confrontation and correction. It will sometimes feel costly. But through thick and thin, the commitment of a disciple is to follow and be given to the making process.
It has been a great joy sharing this Surge series with you! My encouragement is that the concept of discipleship is so foundational to what it means to be a christian that you really don’t want to just rush over these thoughts. They are life foundations. You might really want to have every practical handle that you can, pin things down, read over again, ask questions in your Life group, do a self check, and so on. But whatever it takes, you want to really be able to say that you clearly see your discipleship journey and that you’re strongly travelling it.