At present, for many people, in the West at least, discipleship costs them little, if anything truly. Their experience of discipleship is this – they become a Christian, start going to church on Sunday (or whatever day their church gathers on the weekend), and may participate in a weekday Bible-study or small group.
Sure, they may do a daily devotional and pray, but the truth of the matter is that this is the extent of the cost of discipleship for them. This of course presumes we can even call this discipleship.
Discipleship is nothing more to them than an academic performance of learning the Bible. They are students of the Bible more so than followers of Jesus. This is why such discipleship costs them very little.
They give up an hour or two on Sunday, an hour or so during the week (which is more of a social event than anything), and maybe thirty minutes each day to say a few prayers.
So, don’t worry. If you live in the West and this is the concept you have of discipleship, it won’t cost you very much at all.
On the other hand, if you have the concept of discipleship demonstrated by Jesus and you follow the teachings of Jesus, discipleship may cost you something. You may experience the very things Jesus said you would experience as his disciple.
To give a few examples:
Feeding the hungry and caring for the poor is going to cost you financially. Distributing food and clothing is going to cost you time. So much for binge watching the latest Netflix craze or buying the newest glittery thing commercial society states that you must have. (By the way, fairly sure Jesus was talking about a way of life here, not just a once-a-year fundraiser put on by your local church.)
Doing good to those who have wronged you implies you do something not just have good thoughts about them. You’ll have to put your ego and pride aside as well.
Making disciples involves giving your time to mentor another person, meeting with them, praying with them, and guiding them in discipleship. It may involve you taking a risk and talking to a stranger who may laugh in your face and tell you take a very descriptive walk in a very descriptive place.
You may be ostracized by your own family because you refuse to participate in the family traditions or sit around and participate in the family vernacular and conversational pieces that really produce no good whatsoever. But hey…we will laugh, slap each other on the back, and say it was a good time.
Truthfully, these examples are what I call “low-threat” costs. Try living in a part of the world where just saying you are a Christian can get you killed. It is almost unfair for westerners to talk about cost of discipleship in relationship to the experiences of these followers of Jesus.
Remember: Every one of the original disciples were killed for their faith or imprisoned. Some experienced numerous persecutions because they lived out their discipleship.
For those of us in the West, how much discipleship will cost you is going to depend on how far you take following the teachings of Jesus. If taken seriously, it may cost you. Out of respect of those who have given their life or risk giving their life, let’s keep that cost in context.