Dying to Live
the demands of following Jesus
Jesus' words on discipleship in this weekend's Gospel passage are a shock and a challenge:
If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
To say the least, this is intense. Is it also intensely wrong? Jesus followers down through the centuries have been the least hateful sons and daughters, spouses, parents, and siblings of their times and places, so what sense can we make of Jesus' requirement to hate even our own lives?
Perhaps this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer will give us some necessary context:
Jesus offers us salvation. He wants to save us. Jesus invites us to journey with him to fullness of life and blessing, but it's an all-or-nothing proposition.
That sounds tough. It is tough. So let's liken it to something else that is tough.
Let's say that we're stranded on a mountain path, and Jesus comes to our rescue. He knows the way and will lead us to safety, but we must trust and follow him without reservation or hesitation. Taking a different path at any time is to court disaster. Failing to leave behind unnecessary baggage at his say so is sure and certain death.
Is there anything we're unwilling to do if Jesus were to ask it of us? Is there anyone we're unwilling to give up if Jesus were to lead us away from them? When push comes to shove, will we prioritize Jesus and his heaven-to-earth work or will we allow our own plans, dreams, and desires to lead us astray?
In the earliest days of the Church, Christianity was known as The Way. With Jesus as our rescuer - our savior - I am happy to be on the way with you. We will get there!
δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ