What does it cost you to follow Jesus?

The mess and difficulties of our lives provide us with opportunities to imagine what God can do through such difficult circumstances.

And perhaps the messiness and riskiness of our lives leads us to do what we would not otherwise do on our own: trust in God for all our needs and not rely on what we can see or provide for ourselves.
- ED CYZEWSKI and DEREK COOPER, Hazardous

Hazardous-by-Ed-Cyzewski-and-Derek-CooperHonestly? The title didn’t grab me:

Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus

It’s been a hard season of following Jesus already. Do I need to read about it in addition to living it?

Apparently, yes.

And I’m glad I did.

It’s helping me clarify this twist in my path (more on that in Monday’s post) and realizing that what I’m going through isn’t abnormal, but rather to be expected. If our journey with Christ never takes us through some woods, off the beaten path, we may not be following as closely as we think.

Authors Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper break the book down into three sections:

Section One: Understanding Discipleship
Section Two: What Discipleship Looks Like
Section Three: How Discipleship Works

They weave stories from the Bible with stories from their own lives. And then at the end of each chapter, they place “Discipleship Practices” to provoke thought and action from the readers. These two questions at the end of the introduction are enough to set you up for what’s ahead:

5. What do you fear losing if you follow Jesus?
6. What do you fear losing if you don’t follow Jesus?

Yeah. This discipleship stuff is serious business. It forces you to consider your true desires and motives.

As I reminded God over and over again about the seriousness of our problem, He spoke to me with a powerful message that nearly made my heart stop, “Do you want Me, or do you just want Me to solve your problems?”

Breaking down, I confessed that I really just wanted a solution. I repented, and began to seek Him only, letting go of [my] house situation.

So the book continues on, showing you that discipleship involves not only our personal lives, but also involves our families and our public lives.

Sharing our spiritual journeys with others is an important part of the discipleship process, one that clearly extends to our families.

Too often Christians keep what God is doing in their lives to themselves.

The consequence of this, unfortunately, is that it limits spiritual growth. This is because God designed Christians to live in community with each other. Living together and sharing our lives is how we mature. And it is how others mature as well.

Discipleship also requires holiness, listening, and obedience. What does that look like? There’s no exact path every life should take.

Obedience in the Bible is not always a shopping list of commands we have to obey.

We have patterns of obedience, but there is no template for obedience. Otherwise we’d have to pick and choose which stories and commands to obey.

There is an expectation that God’s people will listen for God’s direction and obey it.

So the critical question is: What is Jesus asking you to do?

What is Jesus asking me to do? What is he asking you to do?

Here’s one way to find out:

What has God placed in front of you right now? That’s where you need to practice obedience.

Keep listening, but don’t neglect the significance of the everyday tasks God has called you to do.

If you sense a nudge to step out in faith, don’t wait until tomorrow. God may use a conversation or experience to guide you down the path where you’ll be an effective and fulfilled disciple.

It may seem like a small step today, but as you learn to respond to God’s calling each day, you’ll move away from frustration and dead ends by placing yourself on God’s desired course for your life.

The rewards of discipleship far exceed the costs. Being transformed into the image of his Son is more than we can imagine and definitely more than we deserve.

There is a promise of provision within obedience. Placing yourself in a position where you must depend on God to provide a job, heal a relationship or open an opportunity for ministry is right where God wants you to be. There really is something practical to that verse, “the righteous will live by faith.”

Living by faith in the midst of the hazards of discipleship means “we are free to enjoy God and to be the kind of people God made us to be.”

Committing to that reward is a cost we can all afford to pay.

* * *

What cost are you paying for discipleship in this season?

I’m always moved by Ed’s books. He doesn’t want them to be just words on a page (or a screen), but thoughts that impact change. [See his commitment to the Women in Ministry series]

With the publishing of Hazardous, he is inviting ALL to share personal stories about challenges faced in following Jesus. Join his synchroblog all next week, starting August 27.

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