Counting the Cost: Discipleship

I suppose it says something about my age that when I think of the word discipleship – several images come to mind:

  • Jesus, sitting on a hillside, teaching his closest followers
  • An oriental sage teaching a young monk nicknamed “grasshopper”
  • A Jedi knight teaching a man named Luke Skywalker about “the force”

I know – it’s an odd mix of images.  The first pops into my mind easily, given that I am a preacher’s kid and a preacher myself.  The second and third are there because – well – like I said, it says something about my age.

It’s the first image that is the most important one though.

Discipleship is at the core of Christian faith.  You can study Christianity, show a passing – or even a deep – interest in it.  You can attend a church – or not – but those things, in and of themselves, do not mean you are a disciple.  Listening to and following Christ – no matter what the cost – those are the marks of true discipleship.

Jesus reminds those who were following him one day of that stark reality.  They could either just “go along with him,” to see what miracle he might do next or they could commit – they could promise they would follow his way – follow the Way – no matter what.  Only then could they be considered his true disciples.

Though the world has changed much since that day – the basic truth remains.

We must count the cost of following this enigmatic figure called Jesus.

Still, if we follow, wherever He leads, in the end – whatever it costs – is worth it.

How about you?  What does discipleship mean to you?  What might it cost you to follow Him?  Are you willing to pay that cost, if necessary?

These are not easy questions.  They deserve prayerful thought and careful response.

Something to think about, “grasshopper.”


By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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