A call to follow Christ is a call to suffer—a call to die to your old self and old life.
We’ve all heard a variation of the story of how our parents had to walk to and from school. Uphill both ways. In the snow. Give an example of how the next generation has it much easier than you did.
We are all certainly creatures of comfort; we do not like to be inconvenienced. The idea of suffering is barely comprehensible, yet a call to follow Christ is a call to suffer. Beyond that, we are called to embrace our suffering—not enjoying it but rejoicing in it. This sounds a bit crazy, but Christ-followers are called to be different from the world. The shadow of the cross was upon Jesus throughout His life. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is also upon everyone who chooses to follow Him. Everyone suffers and experiences tragedy; how we respond to the suffering shows how real Jesus is to us.
Primary Scriptures: Mark 8:34-38 and Luke 14:25-35
- Read Mark 8:34. Everyone listening knew exactly what the cross meant: suffering and death. Why do you think Jesus put it this way? Did He really mean it?
- Continue reading Mark 8:35-38. Discuss what you feel Jesus means in verse 35. How have you experienced this “losing” and “saving” in your own life?
- In verse 36, Jesus warns that we can gain acceptance and praise from the world, yet lose our souls in the process. Give some examples of how you see this happening in our modern culture.
- Read Luke 14:25-35. Jesus gives two examples of counting the cost: before beginning a project and before going to war. The theme of both was to make sure you will be able to finish what you start. How do you count the cost of following Him?
- The hot, dry climate of the first century Middle East, coupled with no refrigeration, made salt a very important commodity. It was not only used for seasoning, but had the added importance of preserving meat, especially fish. Once salt lost its saltiness, it was no longer of any use and was discarded. It went from being important and of great value, to being unfit for any use. Jesus knew His audience would be very much aware of the role of salt in their daily lives. He was using this to illustrate His followers being the “salt of the earth,” and what would happen if they lost their saltiness. How do followers of Jesus lose their saltiness?
Discovery Bible Method:
For deeper study, as an alternative to the questions above, read Luke 14:25-35 and use the Discovery Bible Method to explore the passage.
Suggestion: Consider breaking the group into dyads or triads for this section.
Are you or someone in your group suffering as a result of taking a stand for Christ? If so, then encourage them and guide them as they embrace the suffering. Remind them to count it worthwhile to suffer for Christ.
Engage the World Around Us
Engaging at Faith Promise: Staff members (especially pastors) face opposition and spiritual warfare. This week, choose a staff member at your campus to pray for, and send an email or card of encouragement. Let them know you are lifting them up as they take up their cross to bring the gospel to East Tennessee and the world.
Engaging in Community: Seek out a neighbor that has been having a rough time, and share with them how your faith in Jesus helped you through a similar situation.
Engaging the World: Visit the Faith Promise website and choose a missionary from the list. This week, send them an email thanking them for their willingness to suffer for the gospel. Ask how you can lift them up in prayer.
Expand God’s Kingdom
This week, begin each morning asking God for boldness in choosing to do the right thing by making choices that honor Christ no matter the cost. Then ask Him to intersect your path with someone who needs to see your example—an unwillingness to compromise your faith and ethics for the sake of convenience or advancement.
- Jesus knew many of His followers were only there to be entertained by miracles and healings. Some were just curious to see the man everyone was talking about. Jesus cuts straight to the chase. He declares that if anyone chooses to be His disciple it will come at a price. There will be suffering and maybe even death. There’s no better way to separate the serious followers from the thrill seekers than to remove the fluff and shoot straight about the cost of being a disciple.
- Answers will vary. One possible answer is that many times people lose sight of Jesus and their moral compass when focusing too much on gaining success using the world’s idea of success. Money, power, fame can all cloud vision and judgement and lead down a path of spiritual destruction when these things become their god. The converse of this is when a person ignores the opinion of the world and puts Christ first in their life no matter the cost. Putting Jesus first becomes more important than pleasing others or gaining riches.
- Professional athletes, entertainers, and politicians are a few examples. Things begin well, but eventually they find that a little felt good, but a lot was not enough, whether it is money, power, or fame. The more they acquire the more they crave. It becomes an addiction, and eventually they might be at the very pinnacle of success, yet they’ve lost themselves and maybe even their very soul along the way.
- Answers may vary.
- A Christ-follower will lose their “saltiness” by compromising values, standards, and ethics. A little cheating here or there will seem of little importance at first, but will eventually lead to compromise on a larger scale and corruption.
ALL groups at Faith Promise should follow Jesus Christ and lead others to do the same. Below are the marks of a growing follower and disciple of Jesus.
– A follower of Jesus desires to encounter God through the deeper study and application of God’s Word.
– A follower of Jesus embraces people and values relationships on a deeper level so everyone can grow together.
– A follower of Jesus engages and serves the world around them and in their community, through local partners or God-directed opportunities.
– A follower of Jesus expands God’s Kingdom through development and multiplication of disciple-makers, possibly to lead more groups at Faith Promise.