Jesus was very plainly teaching that there is a cost to be His disciple. He expects our highest devotion, and He couldn't have made His standards more clear.
First, we must love Him even more than the people we love the most: our fathers, mothers, spouses, children, brothers and sisters. In fact, Jesus said we must love Him more than our own lives. True disciples of Jesus are sold out to Him. Jesus is not just a part of their lives; He is the center of their lives.
Second, Jesus said that we must carry our own cross in order to be His disciples. What did He mean? He wasn't saying, of course, that His followers must literally carry a cross on their backs wherever they go. The carrying of the cross that Jesus talked about must be symbolic of something.
In Jesus' day, when crucifixion was a common means of punishment, the expression He used was probably common. It would have meant, "Do the thing that you would naturally not want to do," or "Deny your selfish desires for a greater cause." Those who are Christ's true disciples have done just that. The most important thing in their lives is no longer pleasing themselves, but pleasing God.
Third, we must love Jesus more than any material thing if we are to be His disciples. Jesus owns us and everything we own. Therefore, He should have control over everything we possess, and we should do with it as He directs.
1. Disciple = Worship
The apostle Paul described true worship perfectly in Romans 12:1-2: “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable, or well pleasing and perfect.”
True worship is God-centered worship.
Jesus tells us that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth:
It’s also important to know that worship is reserved only for God. Only He is worthy and not any of His servants:
True worship is the acknowledgment of God and all His power and glory in everything we do. The highest form of praise and worship is obedience to Him and His Word. To do this, we must know God; we cannot be ignorant of Him:
Worship is to glorify and exalt God—to show our loyalty and admiration to our Father.
2. Disciple = Servant
Characteristics of a servant of God:
- A Thankful Servant - “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” (Romans 1:8)
- A Prayerful Servant - “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;” (Rom. 1:9)
- A Submitted Servant - “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey By The Will Of God to come unto you.” (Rom. 1:10)
- A Giving Servant - “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;” (Rom. 1:11)
- A Humble Servant - “That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” (Rom. 1:12)
3. Disciple = Witness
Matthew 5:13: You are the SALT of the earth.
Be salt — that is, flavor and a preservative to all around you.
- Live for God before people, and you will impart a positive flavor to any gathering of people.
- Live for God before people, and you will be a preserving force against corruption.
- As you determine to be salt and light before others, you exert a positive influence upon them.
Matthew 5:14-16: You are the light of the world.... it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
- Be light, and the darkness is pushed back.
- Be light before men, so they see your good deeds.
- Your good works point others to God. Your good deeds can cause others to “praise your Father in heaven”.