- “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16.24, New Living Translation (NLT)
- Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. John 15.a, New International Version (NIV)
- The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time. Psalm 34.19, NIV
Have you ever enthusiastically made a commitment that you later regretted? If you answered yes, you’re not alone.
At one time or another most of us have thought or said, “If I had it to do over I would not make the same decision.” Our regret often stems from not having fully considered the consequences of involvement. Therefore, we underestimate the scope of our commitment, over simplify the tasks associated with our commitment, or ignore or dismiss the possible negative outcomes of our involvement.
No such claims can be made by those who seriously choose to follow Christ. In an effort to comfort and prepare them for the persecution they will face, Jesus explicitly warns would be followers that their faith in him and the claims they make about him will cause them to undergo hardships that exceed those common to the human experience. In Matthew 16.24, Jesus likens the weight of discipleship to that of a person constantly carrying around a full size wooden cross.
In the midst of persecution Jesus wants his disciples to stand firm in their faith being reassured by him that suffering for the sake of God is expected. He also wants them to know he and all the prophets before him were persecuted for speaking truths that conflicted with societal norms (Matthew 5.12).
In addition to preparing his disciples for the dangers they will face, Jesus wants them to know the rewards for faithfulness to him far outweigh the suffering they will experience in this life.
Food for Thought:
- The cost of following Christ-
- loss of treasured relationships
- being maligned, misquoted, misunderstood, misrepresented
- betrayal from within the faith community
- and hated with a passion, without justification
- Rewards for following Christ-
- eternal life
- constant fellowship with God
- joy, peace, contentment
- indwelling of the Holy Spirit
- Christ Jesus is the disciple’s advocate
- the power to resist the Devil
May the Spirt of the only true wise and living God continue to rest, rule, and abide with us all. Amen.
Glory to God!