[Thought questions for The Cost of Discipleship March 26, 1014]
1. A promise of persecution. Have you ever been persecuted? What do you think of Paul’s admonishing us with these startling words: “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”? (2 Tim 3:12). What would you say if Peter was the preacher this week and said we’ve been called to follow in Christ’s steps that lead to suffering. Or your preacher–would you go from church delighted with what had been said at the pulpit if that message was on the privilege of suffering?
2. Calculating the cost. Have you ever known someone who wandered from Jesus after marrying a person who cared little about the Christian faith? Is any relationship more important than marriage? Are we sometimes tempted to give our family a greater place in our concerned than our Lord? In general, do we pay enough attention to gladly bringing to Jesus all that we have so that we can endure the cost of discipleship and go gladly wherever Jesus leads?
3. Bearing our cross. Some of us carry huge crosses such as disabling illnesses all of our lives. Do these burdens make us better Christians? Why or why not? Have you found it true as your lesson guide suggests that many of us tend to consider the involvement of human beings in the salvation of others as a legalistic exercise? Can anyone be a true follower of Christ without carrying a burden? Are you sure that the final reward–eternal life with Jesus–is worth the struggle? Well worth the struggle?
4. Responding to the discipling call. Does the life of a true disciple of Christ lead to full enjoyment and happiness? Explain your answer in the setting of the lesson emphasizing the discipline of dealing with our lapses in character. Have you ever watched teenagers working out in their favorite sport? Or watched an acrobat go through delicate routines over and over? Did you give these athletes your highest admiration? Or did you hope they would find a spiritual counterpart for their energy and devotion to a single goal?
5. Comparing costs. What is the Christian’s expected return on investment? For every hour of pain and suffering or of ridicule and mockery, what does the Christian receive in return? What are some of the other costs we pay if we set all other things aside and press ahead only for the mark of Christ Jesus? If it worth it? How long will our gold and silver trophies last? What about the money and possessions we’ve been able to accumulate? What is their value compared with a life untroubled by sin in the presence of God’s creation? Is it worth it to put eternal value at the highest priority?
6. A better resurrection. All of us, or at least all of us who die, will be resurrected, whether we’re good or evil. You can count on that. What will be different about the “better resurrection” we are urged to anticipate? Would you rather be in the group who anticipate the hope of the coming of the glory of God–or with those who realize, too late, the right of God to claim His own along with the choices we’ve made that renders such a reunion impossible. How can we help prepare others for Jesus’ coming?
Next quarter’s lessons: Christ and His Law. It’s a topic we need to pray to understand more fully so we can live under the crown of glory as expressed in Christ’s law.