The nature of “church” combined with the religious freedoms and sense of entitlement bestowed in our culture has led to a rise in what we might call “the reluctant disciple.” Where Jesus calls us to eagerly, passionately and zealously follow Him, this world naturally discourages such radical discipleship. Where discipleship demands a whole-hearted, absolute and determined commitment, this world encourages a much softer and looser approach to one’s faith. Thus, the rise of the reluctant disciple.
A reluctant disciple is only willing to go so far in his service to God. There are things the Lord asks that are just too much. Modern ideas of what makes one a “Christian” allow the title to be worn despite an unwillingness to serve the Lord as He commands, expects and deserves. “Suffer for His name’s sake”—not a chance. “Give all that I have”—no way. “Lay down my life”—absolutely not. “Love my enemies”—who does this?
It’s not just the exceptional things, but the more daily things Jesus asks that overwhelm the reluctant disciple. Assembling more than once each week is just too tasking. Opening my home for hospitality, study and fellowship is not my cup of tea. Talking to others about my faith, the gospel and about Jesus Christ is a little too open for my taste. Confessing sins makes me feel way too vulnerable. Laying by in store is just too demanding. There always seems to be a line that the reluctant disciple is unwilling and hesitant to cross.
Christianity is not for the weak, hesitant and unwilling. It requires total commitment. It came at an incredible price and there is a cost that must be counted and paid (Luke 14:25-33). If we are only willing to follow Jesus when it is easy and convenient, then we have no idea what it means to be a His disciple. The Suffering Savior bore so much to bear our sins on that great cross of shame. How is it that we believe we can follow Jesus at a distance and still please a Heavenly Father who exacted so much from a Beloved Son to save our souls?