Tonight I can’t find my wedding ring. Actually I haven’t been able to find it for the last year or so, ever since our family moved out of our house, selling almost all our possessions in a wild attempt to go to the nations as a family. Tonight I felt the Lord ask me why I needed the ring. I didn’t know, since it cuts off my circulation now anyways…I just missed it for some reason. My ring is not the only “thing” I’ve lost in my following of Jesus. If I were to sit here and count the cost, I would not sound like a hyped-up recruiter telling you about the benefits of giving your life up for the gospel. Instead I sort of feel like Peter when he asked Jesus, with a twinge in his voice, “Lord, we have given up everything to follow you.” (Matthew 19:27) Sometimes, I just want to go home, except we don’t have one anymore, which Jesus also said would happen (Matthew 8:20). Sometimes, if I am honest, the cost seems like it is too much.
But then I remembered.
No, we counted the cost before we left home, like Jesus taught us to do (Luke 14:28). Worst case scenario, we reconciled ourselves to the fact that we might die out here (although we would prefer not to). We knew we were going to an unreached, high-risk area with our four children. We knew this harvest was not going to reap itself, and we knew we had received a placement from the Lord to this land. Still. It’s coming at great cost, not just to us but to our children. We have endured month-long sicknesses (the details of which I will spare you), parasites, war, culture shock, discomfort, hunger, deep loneliness, mold, extreme temperatures, pests, insults, rejection, betrayal, and disappointment.
And yet, when we gather around the table each Sabbath and ask one another “What has God given us this week?,” we almost don’t have the capacity to hold it all. Following Him here has cost us everything, and we are somehow more full than ever. It’s a mathematical impossibility, and yet, with God, everything is possible. We find ourselves grieving the losses, determining to count them as rubbish (sometimes not as quickly as we should), and then realigning to truth in absolute surrender and trust…it’s not over until He has made all things new.
I want to ask you two questions:
- What has it cost you to follow Yeshua and disciple the nations?
- What are you not willing to give up so that you could be a true (discipling) disciple?
The answers to these questions are important. It will tell you if you are a true disciple of Yeshua or, well, not really there yet. Maybe you are just a “believer” right now. That’s ok, but you are supposed to move on from infancy in your faith to true discipleship. See, it’s one thing to believe or trust in the blood of Jesus to cover your sins. It is another thing completely to actually trust Him enough to follow Him and become a disciple (which can be defined as someone who makes other disciples–see Matthew 28:18-20). In fact, if you are not working for the discipling of the nations, then I reckon you cannot call yourself a follower of Jesus, at least not without some serious compartmentalization.
Jesus said, anyone who loves Him will obey His commands, and we do that not because we are forced, but because we choose to follow. Because we care about what He cares about; that’s why we do what He asked us to do–BECAUSE HE is so worth it. And Yeshua promised that kind of love-driven obedience would lead God to make His home with us! (John 14:23) Jesus knocks on the door of every heart, but He has conditions for entering our hearts and making His home with us! He wants to be invited by our obedience (willing alignment with His Word and heart) to make His home with us there with no tension or pulling away from what He is doing in the world. His projects become our projects.
Am I saying this to pat myself on the back because I have accomplished this already? No way. I know how many times I have failed Him in action and intention. But I AM saying that you CAN and SHOULD go to the nations. If we can do it, you can do it. Trust me. And I am not asking you to go disciple the nations on principle, although the Biblical principle is evident. I am encouraging you to do it because you love Him and that’s what He said He wanted.
What is the result of our love for God and the ability to view His true value? Everything else becomes worth way less in comparison. When we really experience His love and understand His heart for the nations, for their healing and salvation, we will find our hearts running like wild horses in a ring, just dying to run free as far as our faith can carry us! Why? Because that’s how He is running toward the nations. He sets our pace. And because of His kindness, He will not force you or rush you. Now, if you just breathed a sigh of relief, let me also balance that by saying, He is coming soon, so even if He is not rushing you, you may be running out of time. There is urgency in the Kingdom, but not anxiety.
If you are a real disciple of Yeshua, you are being asked to leave everything for Him. (Luke 14:33) Surrender everything. Beware those who would theologize this into just a figurative leaving. Jesus is not only calling us to a leaving behind of sin at your confession of faith, but a leaving of your self-interest, a leaving of your own security, a leaving of your own safety and legacy SO THAT you can follow Him in preaching the kingdom. Often times, this will mean a leaving of your position, your career, your home, your land, and your possessions in order to focus on your new “real” job, which is seeking the Kingdom and discipling the nations. See how literal this leaving was.
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Matthew 4:18-22
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. Matthew 9:9
And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. 19 Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:18-22
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Luke 18:22
And he said to all, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and COUNT THE COST, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:26-33
Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. Luke 9:23
Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:27-29
It is a leaving of “normal” work as a “normal” person may do it, IN ORDER TO enter into normalization (for you and your family) of supernatural labor for the kingdom (even while you may be doing other things, like working with your hands or tentmaking). If you say you follow Jesus, but you are spending your days on your own work or your company’s work and NOT His work (sharing the gospel and making disciples as you go), I would say, according to the biblical proof above, you are fooling yourself, my friend. But I am telling you that not to condemn you but to invite you to join us!
Everything else is just placement-where you are being given access by God to minister. God uses people in secular spaces all the time. In actuality, you can boldly preach Christ in any job, in any town, in any career. You might lose your job, but we must preach. Bold proclamation will lead to persecution in some spaces. We hold our placement loosely. If your boss or human authority does not like you speaking about Jesus there, you are not to hold your tongue, even when told that you may lose your job if you continue speaking or praying. You are not to be quiet. You are to “flee to another town” and preach boldly there. There’s no biblical evidence or support for secret churches or secret Christians.
What have you physically left behind in order to preach the gospel? What relationships have turned difficult because of your obedience to the teachings of Yeshua? What hobbies, entertainments, or tasks have you intentionally dropped to make room for His work of healing and setting captives free? If you are a supervisor, what have you released others from doing so that they can lead others to encounter Jesus? Because the reality is that working under someone else’s mandate will fill your days with busyness and fear of man, but God requires your total attention and time so that you are abiding with Jesus, walking out your days as His delegate. That is your real job as a follower of Yeshua. Literally. Your big boss is Yeshua, your job is the kingdom, no matter where you work. I am here to propose to you that you should consider it your “real job” to proclaim the truth of the message of Jesus to the nations out of your connected, passionate, love-driven relationship with the Lord. If you choose to do this, you will lose everything, and then gain even more!
You might say, “well, once my relationship with the Lord is better I will consider this.” Listen, I tell you this with all love and compassion. You are, because of the cross, entirely accepted by God. You are holy in His sight. You are set in this generation to plant the Word of God in the hearts of people by talking about Jesus! Come on! Jesus has accomplished EVERYTHING for you. You are completely free to seek Him and draw near to Him. If I were to really have a minute by minute record of how you spend your time are you telling me that you would not be able to spend time in scripture and prayer? Of course not! Buy the oil of His Spirit (it’s expensive…it costs real time and attention) and let Him train your hands for battle and put His scroll in your mouth. Men and women, children, youth, and older people. You are supposed to be preaching the gospel.
You might say, “Well, I am not gifted in evangelism…stop pressuring me!” No one said you had to be. Moses had a speech impediment and God sent him to give a speech to Pharaoh and lead an entire people group to freedom. Enough excuses, right? God loves to use us in our weaknesses…we are the ones who revolt and refuse, usually because we are scared, embarrassed, or nervous. But Jesus said “If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26) This is real stuff…I am just trying to tell you the truth here.
You may have to leave your family for ministry purposes (only for a set time), or in some contexts you may be disowned by your family for believing in Christ. (Caveat: You would never leave your spouse and children because they have rejected Jesus, rather you would faithfully stay and serve them in love as long as they are willing to stay…1 Corinthians 7:14; 1 Peter 3:1–6.)
The point is…even modern-day discipleship often still requires a physical or situational moving and leaving behind….A “forsaking all.”
Probably not your wedding ring though…or maybe.
Count the Cost Mug
Teachings of Jesus mug collection. Great graduation or ministry gift!
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