“And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27 NIV84)
Is it fair to say that someone could be a believer in Jesus Christ, but not be a disciple? Is there a difference? Can someone have faith, but not be actively serving the Lord? Jesus was talking about disciples in our verse for today. He said that we cannot be His disciples unless we are willing to carry our cross and follow Him — two requirements that seem to go beyond the initial evidence of faith. We who have faith in Jesus have a choice. We have the choice to hold on to that faith as an ends, or we can see our faith as a means to an end (being a disciple of Jesus). Those who choose to be a disciple commit to carrying the cross of suffering and persecution because of their faith-activated life. As they live their lives following Jesus’ example in word and deed, they become disciples of Jesus.
In the great commission, Jesus sends us out to make disciples (not just believers) of the whole world. How do we do that? Jesus says to baptize them (bring them to the faith) and teach them to observe all that He has commanded (make them disciples). As disciples of Jesus we are committed to letting our faith be the rubber hitting the road of our lives. We are committed to picking up our cross every day. We promise to follow Jesus wherever he leads us. We promise to make our faith not an ends, but a means to an end.
Jesus didn’t tell His disciples to “believe in Me.” He told every one of them to “follow Me!” Like the disciples of the New Testament, may we believe and follow our Lord and Savior Jesus.