Getting on Team Jesus is simple. We put our faith in him and we are on the team!
Jesus put it this way in John 6:28,29, "Then they asked him, 'What must we do to do the works God requires?' Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” John 6:28-29.
Salvation is a matter of trusting, not trying, believing, not achieving, and relying, not resolving. When we trust in Jesus, based on his finished work on the cross, we are signed up on his team...never to be kicked off by the Coach.
Yes, getting on Team Jesus is easy. But being a starter on his team takes 100% commitment. And, sadly, not every Christian is willing to pay that high price. And, if we're honest, there are times even the most committed of us have fallen grossly short of starting team requirements.
There were many who believed in Jesus during his earthly ministry:
"And because of his words many more became believers." John 4:41
"And many who were there believed in Jesus." John 10:42
"Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God." John 12:42,43
Yes, there were many who believed during Jesus' time. But there were far fewer willing to pay the price to be a part of his starting team (aka "disciples"):
"From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:66-69
There were many believers in Jesus but only a handful of disciples who were willing to give up everything to follow him anywhere. Many made excuses but few were ready and willing to pay the high price.
"Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, 'Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.' Jesus replied, 'Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.' Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, 'Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:19-22
In Luke 14:25-33 Jesus lays out the requirements to be on his starting team. I'm sure his speach culled the herd and thinned the ranks:
"Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish. Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples."
In this sobering passage the Lord lays out 5 sobering conditions to be a starter on Team Jesus:
1. We must love Jesus supremely.
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple."
The Greek word for "hate" here is "miseo" and means to love less by comparison. In other words our love for Jesus must be so supreme that our love for others (father, mother, wife, childen, etc) looks like hate compared to it. He must be our first love and everyone and everything else (including ourselves) must be a distant second.
2. We must die to self daily.
"And whoever does not carry their cross...cannot be my disciple."
Carrying your cross in the first century, Roman dominated culture was a sure sign that you were on your way to die that day. In the same way being a starter on Team Jesus requires a daily dying to self.
This is simply a refusal to allow the flesh to control us by allowing the resurrected Jesus to live through us. It is a daily declaration of dependence on the Holy Spirit to enable us to live victoriously over the flesh. It is a daily dying to our own desires so that we can live, through Christ, for God's priorities.
3. We must follow Jesus exclusively.
"And whoever does not...follow me cannot be my disciple."
To say that disciples followed their rabbis in Jesus's day is an understatement. They mimicked how they studied, how they proselytized, how they ate, how they drank, how they walked. They mimicked everything about their rabbi until they absorbed his characteristics, competencies, cause and core theology.
I'll never forget my old basketball coach, Bill Adams. He was a big man who played college ball and could dunk (even in a suit and tie) without thinking or blinking. As a fiery coach on the sidelines he gave us specific orders, "We represent Jesus so I don't want any fighting on the court. But, if things get too intense and you see me grabbing the other coach by the collar and start to fight him, you have my permission to grab another player and throw fists. Just keep your eyes on me and follow my lead."
I remember during some pretty intense games looking down the bench (my domain) to the sideline to see if our red-faced leader had the other coach's collar in hand. Of course, it never happened. I'm sure that was his plan all along to keep us from fighting.
In the same way we need to keep our eyes on Jesus and follow his lead. We do what He leads us to do. We read His Word. We yield to His Spirit. We follow our coach/rabbi without thinking or blinking.
4. We must count the cost soberly.
"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish. Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace."
If you're going to build a building, you're gonna make sure you have enough resources to complete the task. If you're going to fight a bigger army, you're gonna make sure your soldiers have enough of the right stuff to defeat the enemy. If you're going to follow Jesus, you need to make sure you have the internal and external resources to finish the job and win the fight.
By the way, Lead THE Cause is a shockingly effective way to help you and your teenagers count the cost as you seek to make and multiply disciples. I strongly encourage you to bring your teenagers to one of these four powerful mobilization events this summer. It will help your teenagers count the cost in a powerful way!
5. We must sacrifice everything willingly.
"In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples."
To be on Team Jesus demands everything. Every asset we have (both internally and externally) becomes His. Money, houses, cars, our future hopes, our past mistakes, our spiritual gifts, our time, our talent and our treasure....all His.
Yes, getting on Team Jesus is free. Put your faith in Him to save you and you're on. But being a starter costs everything.
Are you willing to pay the price?