02 March 2017
Moses said to the people: ‘See, today I set before you life and prosperity, death and disaster. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin on you today, if you love the Lord your God and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws, his customs, you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to make your own. But if your heart strays, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshipping other gods and serving them, I tell you today, you will most certainly perish; you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today: I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live, in the love of the Lord your God, obeying his voice, clinging to him; for in this your life consists, and on this depends your long stay in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he would give them.’
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’
Then to all he said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?’
Take up his cross every day and follow me.
When things are going hunky dory, when life runs smoothly, following Jesus is easy. It’s when we face trials and difficulties that is when our true commitment is revealed.
‘I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine there’s gotta be a little rain sometime’
I remember my dad singing that song when I was a wee toddler. A catchy tune but when you actually read the lyrics, it’s a profound truth of what life is and also what it means to follow Jesus. He assured us that trials will come to His followers. Discipleship demands sacrifice, and Jesus does not make the path of discipleship sound easier or less costly than it really is. Jesus gave His life in total surrender to the will of God, that we might, through his death, come to realize the forgiveness of our sins and our acceptance as a child of God. To follow Jesus, to become his disciple, means that we embrace the road he walked. It means that we surrender and are called to live our lives to according to the will of God.
I know first-hand that with discipleship comes heartache and sacrifice. Reading this passage of scripture has often freaked me out. I am human. I have my trappings and attachments to stuff. Sure I have also given up quite a bit since my conversion some 5 years ago. But as I mature in my faith, the harder it becomes to follow Him. Many a time, it’s really painful as well. There is nothing entertaining about Christ’s call to discipleship. Following Jesus is not always fun nor easy. Sometimes the choices he asks us to make are tough.
We say ‘Yes’ when we are fervent and on the high. But when the Lord moulds and prunes us and leads us down His way, we hesitate. And we are not sure if we really want to be His disciple. We plead and bargain with Jesus, often try to adjust His teachings and call to follow Him to our life and expectations, when it is our lives that require change and transformation.
Are we willing to give up all our human comforts? Loss of friends, family, career, reputation, and yes perhaps give up your life? This is what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” Commitment to Christ means taking up your cross daily. Sometimes we have been faithful to our Lord’s call. Sometimes we have not. But the good news is He doesn’t expect us to get it right all at once and He doesn’t expect us to do it alone either. But once we make up our minds to follow Him, we must never look back. Following Him requires us to make a commitment that is real and permanent; in total obedience and trust. Do you have the courage to abandon yourself and follow Him?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we pray for the grace to make a lasting and permanent commitment to take up our cross daily. In good and in rough times, let us keep persevering, keep strong in or faith. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, help us to hear Your Word with open hearts and minds, and grant us courage to follow You. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to us in your humanity. For bearing all our sins. Thank you for your total obedience to Our Father and giving up your life for us. We pray that we may be worthy of your love and selflessness.