Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
Matthew 16:24-26, NRSV.
We read these words from a post-Easter perspective. I wonder what the disciples might have thought when they heard them. Taking up the cross meant death, giving up one's life. Jesus was asking a great deal! Already, these men (and women) had left their homes, their livelihoods, their lifestyles to follow a man who was somehow different from the others. Now, he asked them to be willing to give their very lives.
Today, when you ask someone about their life, they will most likely tell you about their family, or their job, or their home, and maybe even about their church. In otherwords, their lifestyle.
As I ponder this radical call to discipleship in relation to our current situation, I wonder what are we being called to deny- to give up. We have so much. How far will God ask us to go? I see people who have nothing but what they wear and can carry in a plastic bag everyday. How far am I willing to go? Do I have the strength of faith or desire to follow enough to leave all of it behind? Is that what it would take for me to learn to lean only on God and not on things or my own intelligence and strength of will?
Lord, create in me a heart that desires only to follow you. Amen.