The Cost of Discipleship: Personal Renewal through Sacrifice
“…and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Matthew 10:38; 16:24
The Way to The Cross - Part 1
The Message (a paraphrased version of the Bible) puts the above verses like this: “If you don't go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don't deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me. Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. ‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?’” These are pretty strong words! But then, Jesus was never known as One who minced words. The Apostle Paul understood what Jesus said completely. In Galatians 3 (The Message) he puts it this way: “What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a ‘law man’ so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.”
What does Paul mean by ‘rule-keeping?’ Simply this: God is not nearly as interested in the things we ‘do’ for Him, as much as the motivation behind why we’re doing it. Jesus Christ paid for our sin. There is nothing – and I mean nothing – that we can do that will earn us favor or right-standing with God. All we can do is understand that Christ’s complete, totally surrendered sacrifice requires the same from us. And that means understanding our relationship with the Father in light of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. This understanding comes only as we discipline ourselves in our desire to know Him better, by honoring Him through time spent in prayer, silence, meditation and study of His Word. More on this next time!