Levels of Christian Discipleship and Taking Up Your Cross

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

There are various people in the world back in Jesus’ day as there are today. There were sometimes vast crowds (“multitude” In the KJV) of people numbering in the thousands. (Luke 12:1) The size of these crowds of people apparently ebbed and flowed. Sometimes there were just a few followers, and sometimes it was in the thousands.

Then there were the unnamed disciples. These apparently sometimes numbered in the hundreds. (John 6:66-67, Luke 6:17 NIV)

Then there were the twelve. (Matthew 10:1-4)

Then out of the twelve, there was an “inner circle”: Peter, who was given a promise that nobody else was given — namely that he would be the rock that Jesus would build His church upon (Matthew 16:18). Then there was James and John, the disciple that “Jesus loved” who were the only disciples present to see the transfiguration. (Mark 9:2)

Present day is little different. We all have different stations. There are evangelists, such as Billy Graham, teachers, like Joyce Meyer, and pastors of huge churches like Pastor David Yonggi Cho, and pastors of small community churches. There are elders and deacons and the congregation. There are people minister to youth, and the little old lady who brings the wonderful dishes to the pot luck dinners… All the way down to people who only go to church on Easter and Christmas.

Notice also that Jesus made promises and demands of the general populace that are different than the promises that he made to his closest disciples. The sermon on the mount was for everyone including the disciples, but the command to Peter to “feed my sheep” was directed at Peter. Sure it applies at some level to all of us. But God is very smart. Why would he make the same requirements for the poor old blue-collar worker as he does for an internationally-known evangelist? That would not make sense, would it?

Bloom where you are planted. Do not lay a greater burden upon yourself than even God does. You know your station in life and you know God’s requirements. You will do well to fulfill those and don’t expect to be able to¬†walk on water — at least¬†before your time.

So. How strong of a walk with Jesus do you want? It is up to you. Though God calls many, He is very polite. If you are among the called, He leaves it up to you how close you want to draw to him.

Sure it sounds great in theory – but in practice, you will find there is a cost. Sure the reward is great but so is the cost. And the devil will remind you of all the things you are “missing out on” in hopes of discouraging you.

You have to take up your cross. Not a fun task as anyone who has seen or heard about Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ will know. What is the “cross”? I misunderstood this for years. Your cross is not suffering for your own sins – though you will reap what you sow – everyone, believers or not, will in some fashion will reap what they sow. The cross that Jesus carried was a burden that he carried for others. If you take up burdens for other people, you are bearing your cross.

Remember Love is a choice of behavior – not a warm fuzzy emotion. Emotions go away. Love is eternal.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.(John 13:35 NIV)

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