“WHO CAN BE CHRIST’S DISCIPLE?” (MATTHEW 10:32-39) Kenny Burtch
A Missionary in Africa tells a true story about his first experience working with the customs of the people. The women would be bent low, moving very slowly under the loads of wood piled upon their backs. Their husbands, with no more than a walking stick, walked proud and erect several yards in front of them. It was considered an honor for the women to carry these heavy loads for their husbands.
Well, in an effort to help this situation. This very naive young missionary contacted his church in the States, and had them ship 200 wheelbarrows to Africa. When they arrived, he showed the women how to best load the wood into the wheelbarrows. A few weeks later after returning to this area he found all 200 wheelbarrows parked in a neat row – unused! “Why aren’t they being used?” he asked the men. They explained, “Well, you see, when we got the wheelbarrows loaded with wood, and put them on our wives backs, they were just too heavy!
This story reminds me of what Jesus said in Luke 14:28-30 “For which of you. When he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish. All who observe it begin to ridicule him. Saying, this man began to build and was not able to finish.”
There is no doubt, in my mind anyway, that this is the main reason many Christians are leaving the Church by the multitudes. This is also the major reason that the dropout rate among preachers is a staggering 40%, and increasing annually. They have found that it requires things of them that have become a “Burden,” instead of a “Blessing!” The words of Jesus, in our text, was not part of their introduction to the Christian life! A big part of this is because they were not taught the last part of the “Great Commission!” After they were baptized in the (...Name of The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” Jesus said they were to be taught to observe all that He had commanded…” (Matthew 28:19,20).
Such phrases as: “Take up your cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24-26) was not part of their instruction. “It is better to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) was not part of their instruction. “Love your enemies. Do good to those who have treated you unfairly for Christ’s sake” (Luke 6:27,28). Was not part of their instruction. “And Christ is Head of the Church that He might have the preeminence in all things” Was not part of their instruction. (Colossians 1:18).
Like those wheelbarrows, filled with wood and placed on their backs were too heavy to bare, the cost of living the Christian life, because it was not understood at the beginning, has become too heavy a burden for many. This kind of misunderstanding about the Christian life, has sadly brought about two different groups of worshipers.
(1). The first group we can find in (Romans 10:1-3) “Brethren, my hearts desire and my prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not subjected themselves to the righteousness of God.”
That same attitude still exists today. The commands of God have become too hard, too heavy for many who confess Christ. Many churches are like the Church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-20. Christ stands at the door of that church, and He knocks wanting to come in, but they were fine without Him. This is the group of people who seek to establish their own righteous. It is a more comfortable righteousness. It is an easier, and more satisfying way to reach heaven. They have removed such words as “Sacrifice, Commitment, Dedication.” The fire of evangelism and revival has been replaced with Social activities and entertainment. They have all their ducks in a row, but sadly all the ducks are being led to a dry pond.
(2). There is also a second group that can be referred to as a more “Private,” type of religion. This is the group that says, Church attendance is not needed, and it is not wanted. They have taken (Hebrews 10:25) and completely made the Sunday assembly pointless. Their battle cry is, “I can worship God in the woods by myself, or it may be on the lake, or it may be sporting events.” But who are they teaching and admonishing with Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual songs? When partaking of the Lord’s Supper, who are they showing forth the Lord’s death until He comes, to? Where does he place his contribution, if he gives at all? How is he encouraging one another when he is by himself? I think we can see the fallacy of that “Private religion.”
There is another group I would like to mention. By every Christian working together Christianity becomes a wonderful adventure that is not a burden, but a blessing each day of our life. (Ephesians 4:15,16) “But speaking the truth in love we may grow up in all things to Him who is the Head, Christ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by which every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does it’s share, causing growth of the Body for the edifying of itself in love.”
This is what God’s group is like. They are in no way perfect. This group retains it’s humanity with all it’s faults; yet within this group is a certainty that God’s righteousness is real, and it does not seek to change it! It is a religion that God has given to His children to grow, to love, and to prepare for eternity. Yes, there is a way that seems right to a man, However, as (Proverbs 14:12) says, “...The end thereof is the way of spiritual death.”
I would urge each of us, as Jesus did, to fix our eyes on Him. He is the one who calls us out of failure into a family! ( 1 Timothy 5:1,2) A family where His love is (John 13:34,35). A family where we can grow into what God wants us to be (2 Peter 3:18). A Family of people who will never leave us, but will always be there for us (Hebrews 6:10). Amen?