August 24, 2022 by Ryan Shaw, General Editor
The Holy Spirit seems to be promoting alignment among believers to God’s standards in scripture. True faith is not merely subscribing to a set of doctrinal ideas. But ordering one’s life around obeying the revealed will of God through His word.
God has ever-flowing mercy and grace for our weakness, yet will not compromise scriptural conditions, set forth by divine wisdom, of how His people should live. Yet it is common in our Christian communities to lower the bar of Biblical expectations ourselves. We subtly believe it doesn’t really matter if we obey or not, so why bother.
Mission mobilization includes being a voice among our ministries, calling believers to embrace Jesus’ standards in discipleship and understanding why this is so necessary. Jesus is searching for, and preparing a people, who are a certain spiritual quality, so that they can rightly partner with Him in His primary purpose in the earth in this age – fulfilling the Great Commission.
Jesus is provoking His people onwards and upwards so that we don’t falter and can rightly partner with Him in bringing forth His Kingdom in the earth. The Lord sets conditions for His people that are meant to be embraced. Not only for our sakes but also for His own sake.
But why would He do this? We find Jesus’ answer in Luke 14:25-33.
Let’s consider the passage. These were the last months of Jesus’ ministry and the crowds following Him were immense (vs. 25). They loved to hear Him, watch Him and simply be near Him. Many, maybe even most, would say they would like to be connected to this wonderful man.
He then provides these admirers His conditions of discipleship. These words would have been as difficult for them to hear as they are today. They naturally bring division: those who find the standard too high and can only admire Jesus from a far, not walking according to His conditions, and those who submit to them becoming true disciples.
Jesus is checking the motivations of these “followers,” telling them, “You cannot be my disciples,” apart from embracing loyalty (vs. 26), denying self (vs. 27) and forsaking all you have (vs. 33). Everything in us protests the severity of such terms.
“Why” the seemingly impossible standard. Jesus answers through two illustrations in verses 28-32. That of building a tower (vs. 28-30), considering the necessary materials and secondly a king preparing for war (vs. 30-31), evaluating the quality of his soldiers.
A common interpretation of these two illustrations is that we are the ones “counting the cost” of following Jesus. It is edifying to interpret the verses this way, but Jesus seems to have been teaching another concept altogether. One that truly gets at “why” His standards are so high.
The cost is not ours to count but Jesus’ as He takes inventory on the body of Christ. It is Jesus counting the cost to see if He has adequate materials to complete a building. It is not we who are a king going to war and considering the quality of the soldiers, but Jesus evaluating our quality for the battle.
The illustrations highlight two key operations of Jesus’ work on the earth. He is “building” as the illustration is of construction and He is “doing battle” as the illustration is preparing for war. Jesus is in the world to “build” His Kingdom and to “battle” against all that stands against His rightful rule.
If a person wants to build, they consider the materials at their disposal. If a king goes out to battle, he evaluates his army to see if his soldiers are up to the task or else, he negotiates a treaty (vs. 32).
What did He mean? Jesus is consumed with desire to manifest His kingdom. To build effectively, He first considers the “materials” and counts the cost of their adequacy. To win the battle, Jesus considers His army and the quality therein before setting off to war.
His standards are high because He has the highest stakes invested in us (disciples) as co-heirs and co-workers with him. Jesus has redeemed the body of Christ at the cost of His own blood for “building” and “battling” with Him. When these principles are spiritually understood we recognize the wisdom of His seemingly high standards, embracing them accordingly with joy.
God doesn’t require such standards without providing corresponding enabling to walk the standard out. Doing so would be cruel. He would be teasing us if, in our humanity, we could never actually walk in the commands and teachings of scripture.
Instead, Jesus’ death, resurrection and empowering of the Spirit are sufficient to obediently align with His terms of discipleship. We obtain these spiritual resources through receiving the Lord’s empowering in each circumstance faced.
This enables us to respond rightly, participating with Jesus as He “builds” His Kingdom and “battles” against the forces of darkness. All toward the ultimate goal of the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the subsequent return of Christ in the sky at His second coming.
Are you committed to embracing His standards of discipleship in your life? What is hindering you? Are you ready to arise to “build” and “battle” with the King of glory in His work on the earth?
Let’s together mobilize Jesus’ global Church to press into these truths, becoming all He intends us to become for His Kingdom purpose.