Not every invitation to discipleship from Jesus sounded the same.
He said to Andrew, "Come and see" (John 1:39)
To Peter: "Come, follow me." (Matt. 4:19, NIV)
The the twelve: "Come and bring your cross with you" (Matt. 16:24, para)
Bonhoeffer latched on this final invitation, writing in his classic, Cost of Discipleship, "Jesus bids a man to come and die." The invitation to discipleship is costly. And this explains why so few came.
Even a cursory reading of the gospels shows that Jesus invited indiscriminately. He invited ordinary people to be his disciples (Matt. 4:18-22). He invited the conflicted people (8:18-22). He invited outcasts (9:9). He invited rich and religious people (19:21). He invited anyone and everyone, but only those who could remove themselves (ego, agenda, identity) from the center of their kingdom came (Luke 14:15-33).
The cost of discipleship comprises...
- losing yourself and bearing a cross;
- dethroning idols and deflating your pride;
- releasing lesser loyalties and reordering your loves.
I understand the challenge. Selfish decisions come naturally to me. I like the idea of doing what I like to do:
- I could avoid all arguments.
- I could control the calendar.
- I could live recklessly with the credit card (and ignore phone calls from collections).
- I could shirk responsibilities.
- I could dismiss the cries of draining people.
- I could sneak mushrooms in all our meals.
- I could cloister myself in my pastor's study to read, write, and do crossword puzzles.
If I didn't follow Jesus, I could, give myself permission to live fully unto me. But I accepted the invitation. (Have you?) I counted the cost. I'm still counting. And today I must die (1 Cor. 15:31).
NOTE: There is also a cost of NOT responding to Jesus's invitation. Or, you could say, there is GAIN with discipleship. Those who positively respond to Jesus invitation receive his Spirit, a new identity, a new family, and opportunities to impact others to expand God's kingdom. God begins a work of renewal in them; cross-bearing disciples are becoming more like their glorious Master day by day (Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Cor. 4:16-18).