Written by Allan Mitchell for The Life
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Mark 8:34-35
Has someone ever asked you what it means to follow Jesus? To some believers the answer is easy, but to others, the answer is more complex. Regrettably, our superficial North American Christian culture, with its diverse theological creeds, customs, and contradictions, often communicates that accepting Jesus is all that is required. However, accepting God’s grace is only the first step in a lifelong and often costly journey of discipleship.
In the Gospels, Jesus unapologetically defines the prerequisite for authentic discipleship. Those who chose to follow Him experienced life interrupted and set apart. Theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, asserts, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Bonhoeffer’s bold declaration challenges today’s teaching of grace without cost, forgiveness without repentance, religion over relationship, and salvation without sanctification. As Bonhoeffer retorts, “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus….” (The Cost of Discipleship)
Do we fully realize the implication of Jesus’ startling and challenging proposition? If we answer yes, then, as His followers, how shall we respond? We daily re-evaluate our faith commitment – recognizing that only intimacy and transparency with Jesus produces authentic discipleship. He implores us to confront the crucible of choice – religion or relationship, fan or follower. He compels us to deny ourselves to follow Him – to live set apart lives – lives redeemed by God’s greatest gift – lives transformed by undeserving grace – lives sanctified by His Spirit – lives commissioned to reflect a risen savior to a fallen world.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for sending Jesus to restore my relationship with You. Help me to prioritize my faith commitment. Help me to assess my life and surrender every area to Your Lordship. Help me to sever the desires of the old nature, the lures of this life, and to prioritize others before myself. Amen.
Further Reading: An Easter Reflection: “This Sucks” and Other Things Jesus Didn’t Say on the Cross.