Remembering, though an act of respect, has a hidden opportunity to it-the chance to learn from the example of those we are remembering. When we think of our veterans we think of courage, of sacrifice, of honor but much of that comes out of a character trait: discipline. When you think of a soldier you think of discipline, at least I do.
Do you think that about a Christian?
Sadly that’s not likely the first thing that often comes to mind. Yet Jesus calls us to have discipline when he calls us to be disciples or followers of Him. The word is rooted in that.
In a recent survey of Canadians 77% considered themselves Christians. Really??
If 77% of Canadians were true followers of Jesus, living as we’ve been taught in the Bible this country would be a very different place. We find instead this is a cultural connection rather than a spiritual transformation. Jesus hit the nail on the head when He said in Luke 9:23-24 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Denial…lose…the character traits of discipline.
Discipline is defined as an orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior. We see this epitomized in our veterans and those who continue to put themselves in harm’s way to help those who cannot help themselves. We who are followers of Jesus are to be the same way and live by the same code in the spiritual sense.
So, to be more than a mere Christian, to become a disciple and therefore experience true Christianity means it’s more than a cultural experience, is an all-out commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. That takes discipline. God makes stringent demands on his disciples in terms of attitude and lifestyle, action and heart.
How do we recognize it? How do we know if we have it in our lives? Jesus doesn’t leave us hanging. I really like that about Him. He explained it to them this way: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). We see from this that it’s a life that shows:
A denial of self …it’s looking to something higher and greater then self
A deliberate choosing of the cross….this is a willingness to sacrifice or to give up for the cause of Christ
A life spent following Christ…this is a supreme love for Jesus as He explained in Luke 14:26-33 of loyalty, counting the cost and willingly doing it
Martin Luther once said “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.” God, through His gracious power allows us to experience something so much more than mere religion. He fills us with His Holy Spirit, empowers US to be his agents and vessels of grace, his hands and feet…that’s tough, it can only be done through Him. That takes discipline and it does cost something.
Are you settling for being merely a Christian when the great adventure of being a disciple is available? Just like our veterans did, you need to sign up and then serve as our commander chooses. It’s never too late! Lest we forget.