Discipleship (a 5-part study)

And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27)

It is only the passage of time that has made the cross acceptable in our society. We unashamedly display it in our churches, our homes and in public places. We even wear it as jewellery. It is respectable, inoffensive. But it was not always seen in such a favourable light. Placing the cross in its historical context, we see that it was a cruel instrument of execution. And it was to this that Jesus referred in teaching about the cost of being his disciple.

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me....And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Matthew 16:24; Luke 14:27)

Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)

The teaching method of the Apostle Paul was to make a presentation of doctrine followed by a practical application to our daily lives. In the first eleven chapters of his epistle to the Romans, he expounded upon the great doctrine of God's mercy. He now moves on to show its ethical implications for our lives.

We can never escape the evil influences that pervade our world. Even after our conversion to Christ, we are confronted by the pressure to conform. Some popular television programmes openly advocate immorality as being perfectly acceptable. Powerful advertising intimidates us into believing that we must be successful, beautiful and confident. We are judged to be intolerant and judgemental when we take a stand on God's word, and none of us wants to be considered intolerant or narrow-minded. So the pressure to conform is ever-present. Yet embracing the world's agenda is not an option for a Christian.

Large crowds were travelling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 'If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.' (Luke 14:25-26)