March 6, 2023 — Discipleship: Jesus said, “if;” Does that means a choice?

After Stan and I had talked for a few minutes, he said, “I’m hungry. Let’s order breakfast. What are you going to have?”

“I’m hungry too,” I replied, “but I don’t know what to order. It’s one of those days when I just don’t know what I should do.”

“Well,” Stan said with a smile, “if you’re hungry, and if you’re going to order something, and if you are going to have anything to eat, you’ll have to decide. Here comes Ricky to take our orders. If you’re going to decide, now’s the time!”

I make a quick decision. I told Ricky what I would like. He hurried off to tell Cook.

“I’m glad we got that out of the way,” Stan said with a laugh. “All of that had to do with deciding about if you were hungry and if you were going to do anything about it. All about ‘if.’ Let’s talk about ‘if’ in another context.”

“If that’s what you want,” I replied with a smile, “go ahead. What do you have to talk about?”

“As I’ve mentioned before,” Stan said, “with the time I spend journaling with God each morning, I go through the Bible verse-by-verse.”

“Journaling about each verse?” I asked.

“Not necessarily,” he replied. “Some days I cover several verses; other times I will spend more than one day on a single verse.”

“Writing about what God has to show and tell you?”

“That’s it,” Stan said. “Lately I’ve been in Luke’s gospel. This morning I got to one of my favorite verses on discipleship. It’s one we’ve talked about before. I could probably spend weeks or months on this single verse. Maybe the rest of my life.”

“On one verse?” I replied. “Which verse are you talking about?”

“It’s a fundamental one on discipleship,” Stan said. “About the three steps of denying self, taking up what I am too take up, and following. But before we talk about those steps again, I want to focus on the single two-letter word Jesus used at the beginning of His statement on discipleship.”

“What two-letter word is that?”

“If,” Stan replied. “It’s the one we were talking about with your breakfast, but here Jesus used it by saying ‘if’ I want to be a disciple, I need to do such-and-such.”

“With the ‘such-and-such’ being the three steps,” I commented. “What about the notion that all Christians are disciples just by the fact they have come to faith and are Christians?”

“Without anything more?” Stan asked. “Seems to me that Jesus wouldn’t have used ‘if’ at the beginning of what He said.”

“More likely,” he continued, “Jesus would have said something like, ‘If you want to be a Christian without being a disciple, you don’t have to do anything after coming to faith and being saved.”

“But,” I replied, “that’s not what He said, and that’s not what He wants, is it?”

“”I don’t think that’s what He wants,” Stan agreed. “I think Jesus used ‘if’ to tell me I have a choice, but what He really wants is for me to choose to be a disciple!”


Bible verses to consider:

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23.

If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Matthew 16:24.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your provision for me to come to faith and know I will spend eternity in your presence. Thank you, too, for your provision of being a disciple though denying myself, taking up what you have for me to take up, and by following. I confess  that too often I don’t make those choices on a consistent basis. Please help me in following every step of your lead so I am, in fact, a full-time disciple being who and doing what you intend for me. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you accepted God’s free and gracious provision of life with Him eternally so that you can be a disciple while He keeps you here? If no, why? Why do you want to remain separated from God? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing in being a disciple? Do you believe that you have choices to make in being a Christian who is pursuing discipleship? If you sense the need for change in how you are going about being a disciple, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

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