The Bible says, "If anyone should come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel, will save it." Mark 8:34-35.
As we walk the winding road to the cross during these forty days of Lent, these verses stand as a fork in the road; go left or go right, but it is time to make a decision.
I do not know about you, but thinking about Jesus carrying the cross is difficult. In fact, that is not the Jesus I like to think about. Let me explain...it is easy to imagine Jesus teaching on the shoreline. It is easy to consider Jesus feeding the 5,000. And wouldn't we all like to see just once, Jesus doing something like raising Lazarus from the dead? You see, that is the Jesus we like, the easy going, help us out, take care of our needs while making us feel better about life, Jesus.
But yet, there is another side, one that is not hard, mind you, but simply unwavering in His commitment to His calling. There is a side of Jesus that stood toe to toe with Satan, and said, "Away from me Satan, for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'" There is a side of Jesus that turned over the tables in the temple and said, "My Father's House should be a place of prayer, but you have made it into a den of robbers." And in the text for Sunday, Mark 8:27-38, we see that side of Jesus reappear when He rebukes Peter, " 'You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.'" This Jesus, the one who walked alone to the cross does not make me feel warm and fuzzy...this Jesus make me feel like a half-hearted disciple.
I am convinced that we in the church often follow Jesus when it is easy, like when the bills are paid, and when the children are behaving. But do we follow Jesus when it is hard, like when you fell your prayers bounce back at you off the ceiling, or when the employer calls you in to say, you are being let go? Ultimately, do we follow Jesus not just part of the time, but all of the time? If we are going to be called His disciples, then we must.
Dr. Bill Coates, the pastor of FBC Gainesville, GA preached a sermon some years ago that centered around one phrase that I find most appropriate for this week: "Jesus did not come to make your life easy, He came to make your life matter." Far too often we want the easy life...not the life that demands denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following; if you want to be a true follower of Christ, then this is exactly what you must do. Please, this week, make your life matter as you serve Christ by serving your neighbor.
I look forward to seeing you Friday night for the pricing event (6-9 PM), Saturday morning for the Relay for Life Yard Sale (7 AM-11:45), and Sunday morning for Sunday School and worship.
In His love and grace,