By Rev. Beverly Kahle
St. Paul’s UCC – Nashville
“What does it take to be a follower of Christ in the world today? The one scripture passage I think of with this question is found in all three of the synoptic Gospels – Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23 – Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (NIV)
Being a follower or disciple of Jesus is more than going to church on Sunday morning. It’s more than just believing that he is Lord, but truly living that way. In our society today we have many choices and demands on our lives and on our time. To be a follower of Christ, we learn to put all of those choices and demands second to Jesus. I think this is what denying ourselves means; saying no to our immediate wants and waiting for Jesus’ best. To follow Jesus means we put our whole life in his hands and try to do what he wants us to do, trusting that he will indeed lead us.
How do we know what to do? We learn that by becoming students of Jesus, his life, and his teachings. We study with other Christians who have walked faithfully with Jesus and talk with them about what they are doing and how Jesus is leading them. We develop a prayer life through which we have conversations with Jesus and are attentive to his nudges. As we do these things, we begin to see ways to serve him and develop a desire to make a difference in the world. We begin to take up our cross and follow as we become a true disciple by putting our faith into action.
Being a follower of Christ is hard work and causes us to make decisions that seem counter to the world’s wisdom, but the joys of discipleship are many as we discover how much God loves us and wants to use us to make a difference in the world. It’s not easy work, but you can’t beat his retirement plan!
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