April/May 2016 - Vol. 85

man walking towards the cross 
Pick and Choose Discipleship or Total Surrender? 
by Tom Caballes

Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” 
- Matthew 16:24 ESV
Around 30 years ago a friend told me what his dad said to him about following Jesus: he either follows Jesus completely or not follow Him at all. This struck me deeply – because it also applies to all of us. Sometimes we treat discipleship to Jesus as having many options – we can pick and choose what we want to do or not do. If it is too hard, then we compromise or sugar-coat things. Jesus made it very clear that He decides the terms of discipleship, not us. Why? He knows what is best for us.

Pick and choose discipleship does not work! Living a double life makes us lose our personal integrity. Being lukewarm Christians prevent us from growing in maturity in Christ. So are you ready to confront yourself – are you ready to follow Jesus completely, or do not follow Him at all? I’m afraid those are the real choices you have.

So How Do You Live a Life Truly Surrendered to God?

  1. When you decided to follow Jesus, do you have any “ifs” and “buts”? If you have them, know that you are the one determining the terms of you following Jesus, and it will not work. You are not really following Jesus on His terms. In the Scripture, Jesus denied knowing people who called Him “Lord” but were evildoers. Discipleship with ifs and buts is an exercise of futility.
  2. Do you live a double life? Do you behave one way at your school, university or workplace and another way with your brothers and sisters? If yes, you need to admit it and resolve to change. You are the only one who knows this – and can make changes. Ask for pastoral wisdom with a brother or a sister close to you.
  3. We all have both strengths and weaknesses, and each one of us are different. All of us have particular weaknesses that we struggle with. To some of us, the battle with some of our particular weaknesses may last a lifetime. We need patience with ourselves as we continue to surrender our lives to God.
  4. Ask yourself: are there areas in your Christian walk that you are lukewarm with? Do the words that come out of your mouth pleasing to God? Is there any area in your life you compromise with the world and the flesh? Do you justify or sugar-coat things so they look acceptable to you and to others?
  5. Is your life on fire for God? Are you wanting to see God’s will be done and His Kingdom come - daily? Are you faithful to daily commitments to pray and read God’s word? Are you willing to die for your faith?
  6. Lastly, are you wanting all your families and friends to follow Jesus too? Are you praying for their conversion? Are you the living Word of God, the fifth gospel walking around wherever you may be?
Other Scripture passages:
  1. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. [Galatians 2:20 ESV translation]
  2. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. [Galatians 5:16 ESV]
  3. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. [Revelation 3:15-17 ESV]
  4. Other references: Matthew 10:37-39; Matthew 22:37; Galatians 5:19-23; and Philippians 3:7-11.

For personal reflection or group sharing

  1. Are there areas in your life you are not surrendering to God? What are your personal weaknesses?
  2. Are you patient with yourself as God is patient with you?

Tom Caballes is the National Senior Administrator and a National Coordinator of the Lamb of God, a community of the Sword of the Spirit with 7 branches located throughout New Zealand. Tom also leads Kairos New Zealand, an outreach program for high school, university, and post-university aged people. 

Tom and his wife Mhel and their two daughters live in Wellington, New Zealand.


 (c) copyright 2016  The Sword of the Spirit
publishing address: Park Royal Business Centre, 9-17 Park Royal Road, Suite 108, London NW10 7LQ, United Kingdom
email: living.bulwark@yahoo.com