There is a cost, but it is worth it


Ben Cantelon – Worth it All


I cannot imagine what it was like for families making the decision to go back to Jerusalem after spending so many years in Babylon. Some of them had children that were born, raised and were now working and providing for families of their own. In many ways, it was their home, with their friends and their communities.

To go back to Jerusalem was a big unknown. I know my parents and my wife’s parents came to Canada from Europe and started from scratch, so I know a little about what that may have meant. They did this without God, so the people of Israel had a head start knowing that the story of their return to the promised land was shared from generation to generation. They were doing what Abraham had done. I sometimes think about what I would do – am I willing to obey Christ no matter how much it costs? I believe this is what it means to be His disciple.

I look at the Samaritan woman at the well story and know that when I make the decision to follow Jesus, I will have a life transformation moment just like she experienced. I cannot imagine the number of steps Jesus took for her to receive so much healing. Women were never called “daughters of Abraham.” Jesus made the woman feel as if she had equal worth to God. Jesus continues to ignore two codes of behaviour. His conversation with the foreigner, and the fact she was a woman.

All of that did not matter. Jesus wanted to bring out a truth, and that was for a call for those to worship Him exclusively – the heart of Jesus’ ministry on earth.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4: 23-24  ESV

In this very prolonged dialogue, there is a recognition and then an honouring for her thirst for truth. Jesus reveals He is the Messiah. When the disciples come back that are so confused as to what He was doing.

Another tradition was changed, for Jewish thought gave no heed to a woman’s testimony for it was seen as not trustworthy. But look at the reaction from those that heard her excited words and acted on them:

 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” – John 4:39  ESV

Jesus is invited to spend a few days with this community. Her encounter with Jesus changed her from a stranger – to a learner – to a teacher of others. By experiencing this, she broke through old barriers of distrust and hatred that everyone took for granted.

The cost was a hard time of change she had to go through, and so quickly, but it was all worth it at the end.








Teaching and demonstrating


Visiting King David’s dialogue with King Saul, I see him purposefully take the opportunity to disciple the men who are following him by teaching and demonstrating that  it is never acceptable to kill an anointed king. It is a great lesson for him to give for not only is it honouring God but in many ways, it is a practical lesson, because one day David will become king in Saul’s place.

I was also reading about Abigail and looking more closely at her choice of words when addressing David. This one caught my eye.

Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live.  – 1 Samuel 25:28  ESV

I am sure that she had no idea what she was proclaiming. If I can call her the unconscious prophetess, she could never dream that from David’s house there would come a holy One who would come in person and make good her words.

How do I proclaim, teach and demonstrate who Jesus is and honour His calling in my life so that I can look like David, Abigail and Jesus? I am challenged by Paul in my reading of  1 Corinthians 9 where he comes on strong as a staunch advocate and practitioner of disciple-making. Five times in the passage below he uses the word – kerdaino – meaning “to gain,” “acquire,” or “win.” I really stay away from the word recruiter because I believe that is the Holy Spirit’s job, so these words imply the action words for teaching and demonstrating.

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. – 1 Corinthians 9:19-22  ESV

Actually, it can almost seem like a transactional term used in business to describe making a profit or trading up for something better.

In the same chapter Paul describes just how much work is involved in making the choice of being a disciple-maker. It is undistracted effort. Once-in-a-while effort probably does not cut it.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[b] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27  ESV

Time is lost when we start to worry about or pay attention to anything else other than the run. It is what I do every day that matters – the self-examination, prayer, obedience and watching against evil and temptation. There just might be something between the word “disciple” and the word “discipline.”

The Psalms have always said the words that have drawn me to Jesus with my whole heart. Psalm 63 is no different and it matches with Paul’s teachings above. David writes of his love for God and all that is His. He writes of thirsting for God in his soul and his longing in his flesh. It should be fair to say that the measure I thirst for God and to walk with Him is one of the identifying marks of a faithful and dedicated disciple. This kind of thirst and hunger causes me to strive to be the best I can be, give the most in what I do and to serve with the greatest amount of capacity.  That desire cannot be ignored, it must be satisfied. This is not a picture of a half-hearted disciple. I am called to seek God and never cease until I find Him.