Throughout college and seminary one of the major emphases of study is based on the idea of church growth. You can go through my office right now and you can find a multitude of books based on church growth. They will tell you how they see it that you can numerically increase your church, they will have neat little slogans like: “Decide how big you want your church to be, and go for it.” They will tell you how your church must be in the “times” to reach the current world. Yet our model is a guy who spent the majority of his ministry time with twelve men. A guy who when left this earth, had only about 120 people who were actually sticking around and doing what he told them to do.
Jesus apparently was not interested in marketing himself to the masses. His invitations to potential followers were clearly more costly than the crowds were ready to accept, and he seemed to be okay with that. He focused instead on the few who believed him when he said radical things. And through their radical obedience to him, he turned the course of history in a new direction.
I believe one of the problems our culture has is that we have cheapened our faith trying to make it ‘easy’ and the fact is the Bible tells us to ‘count the cost.’ Luke 14:26 “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.” Imagine hearing those words from obscure Jewish teacher in the first century; He just lost most of us; but then he continued: “anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Now this is taking it to another level. Pick up an instrument of torture and follow me. This is getting plain weird… and kind of creepy.
Imagine a leader coming on the scene today and inviting all who would come after him to pick up an electric chair and become his disciple. Any takers? As if this were not enough. Jesus finished his seeker-sensitive plea with a pull-at-your-heartstrings conclusion. “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Give up everything you have, carry a cross, and hate your family, this sounds a lot different than “Admit, Believe, Confess, and Pray a Prayer after me doesn't it?” (See the Book 'Radical' by David Platt.)
The great theologian Dietrich Bonheoffer summarizes my point well when he says; “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” I would like to challenge you to really take some time and look through the scriptures and find out exactly what Christ expects from his followers. It is truly a life changing decision to genuinely follow our Lord.