18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Matthew 8:18-22 (New International Version)
When one reads the exploits of Christians in the early church, it is difficult not to be in awe in how the Holy Spirit worked through them. However, when you begin to compare these feats of faith to the actions of the modern church, your heart begins to sink because the feats of faith done by believers in this day and age pales in comparison. The church, which was the active, faith-filled body of Christ, has become a shell of its former self.
Forgetting the Mission
Why is the Church not as strong as it used to and how can it return to it true self? I suspect the reason for the decline of faith in the Church is the result of the Body of Christ forgetting the commission which the Lord gave to it. The Church has been too preoccupied in bringing people to Christ.
The Importance of Invitation
Now I am not saying that bringing people to Christ is a bad thing, for we are called to preach the Gospel to those who do not believe and invite them to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. The problem is that we have been so focused on invitation, that we have left out the next step in a believers walk in faith. So what else is there aside from being saved?
Call to Discipleship
That next step for all believers after being saved is the call to discipleship. To be saved by Christ is one thing, but to be His disciple is a totally different matter. What is the difference between being saved and discipleship?
The First Step in the Faith Walk
In the invitation to salvation, the unbeliever accepts Christ Jesus as the Lord of their life. They publicly confess their sins and profess their faith in Him. While it is humbling to admit to people that you are not perfect and that you need a Savior, this is only the first step in a Christian’s walk.
The Second Step in the Faith Walk
In the step of discipleship, the Christian begins the process of becoming more like Christ every day. Most believers do not even try to taking this next step in their faith. That is because becoming a disciple of Jesus is no easy task.
Discipleship requires that the faith follower make many sacrifices. One of those sacrifices is the forfeit of comfort. To follow the Almighty’s lead, a disciple must “swim” against the flow of this world. For our refusal to go with the world’s flow, the disciple will be ridiculed and even persecuted to the point of death.
Another sacrifice that a disciple must make which causes many to fall away is the loss of security which is found in one’s family. Sadly, not everyone in our families will believe in Jesus as we do. As a result, because of our faith, we may alienate those unbelieving members of our family to the point of them disowning us.
Accepting the Price
To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is a very hefty price tag. Nevertheless, unless we take the step of becoming His disciples, our faith will always be limited and less productive than it could be. The early church knew the cost of discipleship and accepted the price because they knew that even though they lost so much, the Lord would reward them which much better things.
Taking the Next Step
It is time for us modern Christians to take that next step in faith. The comforts and securities that we have in this world pale in comparison to the rewards and blessing that we will have for follow Christ. It will not be an easy road, but the Lord will by our side on our journey. All we need to do is step forward; and when we do, our faith will move mountains.