Mid-Week Reflections from Bro. Rudy

October 10, 2018

Being a Passionate Christ Follower

We’ve been working on a new vision statement for our church. The words “Passionate Disciple” or “Passionate Christ-Follower” have been suggested to describe who we are to be. The word passionate could be used to describe football fans for various teams. They show up rain or shine, cold or hot, win or lose to cheer on their team. If they don’t attend the games, they make sure they are at a place to watch and listen to the game. And during the week, they talk about their team. But would you say you are a passionate Christ-Follower?

In the Gospel of Mark, the crowds who were showing up to hear Jesus teach and experience His miracles were growing. He knew that many of them were simply “fair weather fans.” Mark says; “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.’” (Mark 8:34-35)

The fact that Jesus spoke these words to the crowd, not simply the 12 Disciples, tells us this was a call to all who wanted to follow Him. The challenge to deny oneself, take up their cross, and follow Jesus was not simply for the first 12 disciples. It was Christ’s call to all who would be his followers. But I’m not sure we see it that way today.

J.D. Walt wrote on this passage from Mark in a recent Seedbed Daily Text. His reflection on this passage provides us with a challenge about our discipleship:

  • This is very challenging teaching and yet in twenty-first century Christianity, it has become so “challenge by choice” optional. I mean, Jesus didn’t intend this for everyone did he? Can’t I just believe in Jesus and everything will turn out ok? What’s this about carrying a Roman Cross and letting my own life go to follow Jesus? It sounds so extreme and hard. Surely this can’t be what he meant.

  • The Gospel is a radical solution to a catastrophic problem. Imagine if you had terminal cancer and the doctor told you all you needed to do was to “believe” in the “efficacy” of the treatment. You didn’t actually have to take the treatment—just believe in it. It’s absurd. You would go to your grave “believing” in the treatment yet never having actually been treated.

  • I think this is the case with so much Christianity over the past hundred years or so. We’ve wanted to reduce it to its lowest possible threshold to the point where we simply want to know if you have made a “decision.” The problem with this? Trusting Jesus is not a transaction. It is a totalizing abandonment of oneself to God. It is the shifting of the center of gravity from self determination to revolving all of life around God and his Kingdom. Where did we ever get the idea that believing something in your head or saying that you believe in the truth of something could somehow add up to following Jesus?

  • Allow me to pose a sobering hypothesis. You have to promise not to willfully misunderstand me, obscure my point, or take this out of context. Let’s take the eternal destinies of Heaven and Hell out of the equation—just for argument’s sake. Here’s the hypothetical question: If Heaven and Hell were not part of the equation, would you still be following Jesus? If not, the chances are you are not following him now. (I’m ducking now!) ;0) (J.D. Walt – Seedbed Daily Text, October 3, 2018)

So let me ask you this question: Are you a passionate Christ Follower?  If not, what is holding you back? According to Jesus, it is in losing our lives for His sake that we find life.   
- Rudy  

Your responses to these Reflections are always welcomed.  You can email me at <rguess@tuscumbiaumc.org.>     

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