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Stop Negotiating With Jesus

Discipleship has a first step. And while it is simple, it is also difficult; while it is a decision you make once, it is also a decision you make every day. Every disciple must stop negotiating with Jesus.

In the ancient world, ‘disciples’ were quite common. They were people who willfully accepted the invitation to sit at the feet of a specific teacher in order to learn his worldview and in most cases, become like him. Some settings were more formal than others; some teachers more selective than the rest. In Jesus’ part of the world, highly educated and well respected teachers called rabbis would select students they felt were capable of becoming like them and they would spend a considerable amount of time investing into them. The core qualification for becoming a disciple was that you entrusted the formation of your worldview to your teacher. There were no exceptions. If you wanted to be a student of Aristotle,  you submitted yourself fully to his worldview. If you wanted to become like Hillel, you journeyed with him and tried to grasp his teachings and apply them. This is discipleship.

When you read through the gospels, it’s easy to see this theme. Peter, James, John, Levi, and Andrew made the decision to stop negotiating with Jesus the moment they dropped everything when Jesus called them to follow. The rich young ruler, most of the religious leaders, and the man who wanted to bury his father wouldn’t give Jesus that place of authority to speak into their lives. We see the difference between being a disciple and being a member of the crowd/posse in John 6. Jesus teaches a very difficult truth and many turn away and desert him. When Jesus asks if the twelve are going to leave too, Peter responds with the heart of a faithful disciple: ‘where would we go? You hold the words of eternal life’.

Like the crowd that day, we too often hear the words of Jesus and refuse to implement them into our lives because they are too hard. We too often hear the words of Jesus and don’t put them into practice, negotiating our relationship with him on our own terms. But the invitation to sit at the feet of Jesus so we can understand his heart/perspective and therefore become like Him is sacred – it is beautiful. It leads us into real life. As Jesus said, ‘whoever wants to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. Whoever wants to save his life will lose it and whoever will lose his life for the sake of the good news will gain it.’

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