Saturday, March 19, 2011

This Is Gonna Hurt

To believe is not enough--the demons do that much and don't seem to get a lot of Sunday school credit for it.

Jesus calls us to something much more difficult than belief.  He calls us to follow Him.  And one thing He makes abundantly clear:  in the short term, this is gonna hurt.  The long term?  That's looking pretty spectacular.

I'm still immersed in the riches of the Gospel of Luke.  In chapter 9 of the story, Jesus, having just finished a time of communion with His Father, tells His followers:

[I] must suffer many things...and [I] must be killed

And then He immediately adds:

If anyone would come after me, 
he must deny himself 
and take up his cross daily 
and follow me.

Jesus is saying to me, "Nate, I'm going to go pick up this cross of wood, lug it up a hill, allow myself to be stripped, ridiculed and then stapled to it.  You want to follow?  Go grab a cross and let's go."

If I really process this...what a privilege to participate in the same self denial that the Divine One models for me.  This is the short term payoff: sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings brings a level of inner joy that we need something besides the spoken or written word to describe.

The long term payoff?  With His next words, Jesus tells us:

...whoever loses his life for me will save it.  
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, 
and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

Here's how one modern day follower of Jesus translated this concept into the vernacular for us:

He is no fool
who gives what he cannot keep
to gain what he cannot lose.

--Jim Elliot

No getting around it, this is gonna hurt.  But like our Master, we do it for the joy set before us.