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"Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether ts is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can't, won't he send an emissary and work out a truce? Simply put, if you're not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good bye, you can't be my disciple." Luke 14:31-33 (The Message).
That's how radical the loyalty is that Jesus demands of His disciples. There is no other spiritual leader on earth that requires a commitment as close as that. Why is discipleship of Jesus so all-or-nothing? Why can't it be simple adherence to a belief system like Buddhism, or sticking to rules and rituals like Islam?
It's the difference between following a religion and being personally united to a person. Jesus does not call people to believe what He taught (and He did that), as much as He invites us to believe who He is. That makes all the difference in the world. If He is not who He is, then everything He taught is empty, hollow and meaningless babble.
Counting the cost of radical discipleship is a necessary prerequisite. The image of warfare is appropriate because Jesus came to earth to take back what rightfully belongs to Him - the right to rule over His own creation. Satan is the usurper who won the allegiance of God's son, Adam, and the entire human race, by deception. Jesus unmasked and evicted the squatter and his hoards of demons by defeating him through the cross. His call to discipleship is a call to all-out war. There is no place for slackers or deserters because anything less than a total sell-out to Him would mean disaster.
This sounds like a no-win situation for those who take Jesus seriously, but the opposite is true. It's our plans and our self-will that ruin our lives and take us off course and away from what God intended for us in the beginning. When we heed His call to become fused to Him, submitting ourselves to His plans and His will and obeying His words, we enter a realm of living that is secure and restful and has a guaranteed destination because we are on the way to eternal life in the presence of the Father.
What does that mean? It means that we no longer have to take responsibility for ourselves. He has set the course and He promises all the resources we need to follow Him and to get where He is taking us. The most comforting of all is that He accompanies us, or rather, leads us every step of the way. It is not for nothing that He is called Immanuel - God with us. He promised, 'Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you,' Hebrews 13:5 (NIV), and 'And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age,' Matthew 28:20b (NIV).
What more can we desire? Yes, kiss goodbye to your plans, but it is no loss because our plans are selfish, open-ended and are not guaranteed to succeed. God's plans are perfect, sure, energised by His power and part of a much bigger picture which He put in place before the foundation of the world. 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).
When we entrust ourselves and our lives into the hands of Jesus, we place ourselves and our destiny into the safest hands in the universe. Not only are His plans good and sure but they are directed by one who loves us perfectly, passionately, and unconditionally and we can relax and follow Him with perfect confidence. It takes all the sweat and uncertainty out of living since we have now given Him driver’s seat of our lives and we can enjoy the ride!
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