We hear much about the cost of discipleship. As Jesus stated it in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” He further expounds on it in verses 24 – 28, and in a parallel passage in Matthew 10:32-39. So, Christ doesn’t sugar-coat the cost of following Him, and being one of His disciples. Yet the Great Commission clearly states that we are to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;…” I recently read a devotional selection from the book titled Devotional Classics by Dallas Willard titled “The Cost of Nondiscipleship.” He pointed out that the church today has drifted to “Make converts (to a particular faith and practice) and baptize them into church membership”, and is omitting two important parts of the Great Commission. First, “the making of disciples or enrolling people as Christ’s students, when we should let all else wait for that.” Second, “we also omit the step of taking our converts through training that will bring them ever increasingly to do what Jesus directed” (“observe all that I commanded you.”)
Willard went on to point out that we are really short-changing those converts because then they experience “the cost of nondiscipleship”. He defined the cost of nondiscipleship as follows:
“Nondiscipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil…it costs exactly that abundance of life Jesus said He came to bring (John 10:10).”
This brought the thought that these costs of nondiscipleship are actually the benefits of discipleship stated in the negative. Through discipleship we can help the converts:
•come to understand the “abiding peace” they have in Christ (John 14:27).
•They will experience “a life penetrated throughout by love” (John 15:9-13).
•As they go through the ups and downs of life they will develop a “faith that sees everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good” (John 16:33).
•They will develop a “hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging circumstances” (John 15:18-21;Phil. 4:11-13; IITim. 1:12).
•They will have the “power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil” (I John 2:12-17; I Peter 5:5-10).
Then they will experience “that abundance of life Jesus said He came to bring (John 10:10).
I pray that your Christian life has been more than a conversion and baptism experience, but that you have been discipled and taught “to observe (obey) all that I commanded you” If not, go to your church leaders and ask to be discipled in order that you may enjoy the benefits of discipleship instead of experiencing the cost of nondiscipleship.
Church leaders – be sure your ministry is more than making converts and baptizing them into membership. Fulfill the Great Commission in its entirety – make them disciples who follow and obey Christ with their whole heart.