Life Notes—October 18, 2012
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
There are no guarantees that becoming a follower of Jesus Christ will be easy. In fact, many claim contemporary churches let their members off too easily regarding the commitment of time and treasure required to be a faithful follower of Christ. Certainly my chosen denomination, the United Methodist Church, is not immune to those criticisms.
In John 15:12, Jesus says we are to lay down our lives for our friends. That is our single, if somewhat vague, command. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, summed up the charge of the Gospel as follows:
“Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can,
At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.
Talk about a commitment! That seems to imply that everything we have and everything we are is to be given to others. Talk about laying down one’s life for one’s friends! Near the end of the Gospel of John, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. Peter says, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus responds, “Then feed my sheep.” Jesus did NOT tell Peter to show his love by living his chosen life, but making sure to attend church on Sundays.
Certainly, it is easier and safer and more popular in modern churches to ignore the type of sacrifice that is seemingly required of Christians, particularly in our world, where we have SO much. Where do we even begin? Surely the sacrifice would be easier in a third world country where everyone has so little to begin with, wouldn’t it? Then I remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:24, “…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Ouch!
Unfortunately, I have no easy or comfortable resolution to this conundrum. Except that (1) God loves and seeks us and (2) scripture and our relationship with God and our fellow humans is to be wrestled with daily. What does this type of commitment mean in my life? In yours? Following Christ, by its very nature, is not a single act, but a journey and a way of life. Perhaps we were never asked nor intended to arrive quickly—maybe not even in this lifetime. But we are called to take a step, and then another, and then another. And where will we end up? We will never know if we do not begin the journey.
Tom is preaching downtown where Life worship is at 10:00 AM in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary. Mitch will preach at the west campus where worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.
Come home to church this Sunday. Take a step with your like-minded travelers.
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator