“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”. -Matthew 16:24
This statement sounds heavy… and back-breaking. It almost sounds like a punishment. I can imagine parents doing that to their kids, denying them ice-cream when they don’t finish their homework and serving them coriander instead!
The reality is that no one likes to talk about death, an image that the cross certainly invokes. But as Bonhoeffer puts it, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” There’s a cost to following Jesus, and for some, it’s death, literally. However, by telling his disciples to take up their crosses, Jesus defied the idea that death was the most terrifying thing and suggested that there were worse things than death in the world – living in fear of losing our lives could be one of them. For if they were going to let fear run their lives, then fear would be their god.
Some of us are afraid when it comes to serving God, for fear that it would ‘take too much of our time’, so we refuse to step up and be counted. Others guard themselves from ‘troublesome’ people because “I heard that once you open up your homes to them, or you befriend them, they will suck the life out of you. So, better not.’”
Fear of inconvenience.
Fear of health risk.
Fear of parting with our wealth.
These fears rob us of life, causing us to live stingily and cautiously. This is not really living at all.
Can we live that way anyway? Sure! Just do not expect to be missed when our safe, comfortable life finally comes to an end. No one will notice that we are gone. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Luke 9:24) The way to have life and life to the fullest is not to save it but to spend it, to give it away, for life cannot be shut up anymore than fresh water can be put into a bottle and kept forever hidden away.
Jesus gives us a choice.
Instead of surrendering our lives to fear, we can choose to surrender ourselves to God.
Instead of obeying the voice that keeps telling us to play it safe, listen to God’s voice.
It is the voice that says “Follow Me, do not fear.” It is the voice that calls us to walk on water!
This voice never promises safety but it has always promised life.
This voice never offers freedom from pain but has always offered freedom from fear.
This voice – listen to it. If you are not afraid to lose your lives for My sake, Jesus says, you might be surprised to find them (your lives).
To be where God is, to follow Jesus, means
going beyond the limits of our own comfort and safety;
receiving our lives as gifts instead of guarding them as our own possessions;
sharing the life we have been given instead of bottling it for our own consumption.
– Barbara Brown Taylor –
This 2022, we invite you to set aside the month of JULY to join us in listening to God’s voice calling us to follow Him out of our comfort zone. Through the Sunday Sermons, and the variety of ‘Dare to’ challenges, we shall deepen our conviction to live a life of discipleship!
Let’s grow together!
Rev. Alexa Ho
💻 Register for Disciple-Making Month (DMMonth) here. Registration begins 12 June 2022.