June 15, 2015
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
131. Note how Mark carefully points out that Jesus “called the crowd to him along with his disciples.” This makes abundantly clear Jesus’ intention to make this bold call to discipleship well beyond his initial disciples.
This is very challenging teaching and yet in twenty-first century Christianity it has become so “challenge by choice” optional. I mean, Jesus didn’t intend this for everyone did he? Can’t I just believe in Jesus and everything will turn out ok? What’s this about carrying a Roman Cross and letting my own life go to follow Jesus? It sounds so extreme and hard. Surely this can’t be what he meant.
132. The Gospel is a radical solution to a catastrophic problem. Imagine if you had terminal cancer and the doctor told you all you needed to do was to “believe” in the “efficacy” of the treatment. You didn’t actually have to take the treatment—just believe in it. It’s absurd. You would go to your grave “believing” in the treatment yet never having actually been treated.
I think this is the case with so much Christianity over the past hundred years or so. We’ve wanted to reduce it to its lowest possible threshold to the point where we simply want to know if you have made a “decision.” Trusting Jesus is not a transaction. It is a totalizing abandonment of oneself to God. It is the shifting of the center of gravity from self determination to revolving all of life around God and his Kingdom. Where did we ever get the idea that believing something in your head or saying that you believe in the truth of something could somehow add up to following Jesus? Jesus put it this way:
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
Do we really believe this is true? Spend some time going over those 24 words today.
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J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.