There are two words that are rattling around my head today: discipleship and radical. We are called by Jesus to follow Him. Followers of Jesus are called disciples. What type of disciple does Jesus call us to be?
Jesus said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” I think about those descriptions of a disciple, and each one challenges me. Denying self asks me to consciously and consistently make Jesus king. He is king of my actions. He gets to call the shots on how I respond when I feel strong emotions. I am called to deny my own rights and privileges and let Him decide when I avail myself of those rights and when I let them go to serve a higher good.
Wow. Taking up my cross daily hits me twice. First, I think of the cross. The cross is a burden. The cross is a sacrifice. Jesus calls us to embrace both. He calls us to embrace a consistent burden. He calls us to embrace sacrifice. The second thing that hits me about our Lord’s statement is that He calls us to embrace both daily. It is a lifestyle of sacrifice and burden.
It is after we have embraced these two descriptions of a disciple that Jesus then says that we can follow Him. This is where the radical part comes in. No, I am not talking about the type of radical that we hear used on TV. I am talking about the original meaning of the word. The word refers to a change (or a characteristic) that happens at the root or essence of something. In that way, Jesus’ call is supposed to be radical. It is supposed to change the root of who we are as people. In other words, disciples are people who are completely open to Jesus changing and challenging them from the inside out.
That is what I want. I don’t just want to be the old person I was. I don’t just want to join the “Jesus club.” I want to be changed. I want to be challenged. As Peter said to Jesus after a truly challenging teaching – Who else has the words of eternal life? Who else indeed? It is only Jesus. So if he wants to change me, I welcome that change. I don’t want to just watch Jesus. I don’t just want to learn facts about Him. The word in our culture is apprentice. I want to be an apprentice of Jesus. I want to be like Him. I want to follow Him!
Something to think about,