When I hear Christians discuss "leading people to Christ" I get a little uncomfortable. I think it's because there's this automatic assumption that Jesus is going to make their lives happy-go-lucky. Jesus is going to bring them joy, hope, peace, purpose, etc. But if you've been reading through the gospel of Luke with me these past few days, it doesn't really seem like that's what he's promising us, does it? He says he comes to bring division, to turn us against each other. He says that to be a disciple means you have to take up a cross, you have to be willing to suffer rejection and ridicule. The only good thing about following Jesus is at the end of the tunnel, the kingdom of God.
Jesus knows that following him isn't a cake walk. He knows that following him means giving up everything. It means putting him first and everything else second. It means detaching yourself from material possessions and building up heavenly treasures. And for some reason, I feel like church sometimes paints a completely different picture. But Jesus has a couple parables for that, and the purpose of those parables is to get you to really consider, "Is this worth it to me in the end?"
The first is about a guy building a tower, but in the end he runs out of money and can't finish it. Everybody makes fun of him. The second is about a king waging war against another king. He takes a minute to calculate if he has the manpower to take out his enemy, and realizes he doesn't. So, he sends a peacemaker. Then Jesus is just straight up and says:
"You cannot be my disciple if you do not renounce all of your possessions."
All of them. Not some of them.
I don't know about you, but I haven't done that. So, it begs the question:
Am I really a disciple of Jesus?
I don't think being a Christian and being a disciple are the same thing. And I think Jesus knows it. He knows it because he wants us to really think about what the role of a disciple is and if we can handle it. He gives us parables of people who lose everything when they commit to the cause. There are tons of people who have come to Jesus and received his blessing. When they return to their lives, he doesn't curse them. Then there are people who follow him and give him a bunch of lip service. These are the people he's hard on. He has to be.
Because a cross is death.
And Jesus is honest.