There are record numbers of suicides. Record levels of depression. Record levels of domestic abuse. Our world has never been more desperate for followers of Jesus to show the way out of this growing darkness! But the workers are few (Matthew 9:37).
When they asked, “Are you Jesus of Nazareth?” Jesus, “knowing all that was coming,” replied, “I am.” But when asked a short time later, “Are you his disciple?” the Apostle Peter, fearful of all that was coming, replied, “No, I’m not!” (John 18:4-5; 17).
Discipleship is dangerous! Why? Because the way to resurrection is through the cross. The cross is the doorway to discipleship. But again and again, fear stops us. How do we get around the cross?
We don’t. We go through it.
Why? Two words: Job Training. Why do people spend long years learning to be a surgeon? Because it’s the only way to become one. It can’t be done for you. You may desire to be a surgeon, but only through hard-earned skills, experience and insight does it become who you are.
Discipleship is the same. That’s why James 1:2-4 says we should “take joy” in the hard stuff, in the “trials,” because they train us, they make us “complete.” It’s the only way to become a disciple, for it to become who we are.
But whether we use our crosses to become disciples is up to us.
I spent years in the throes of anxiety (I’ll be blogging about this over the next four days). Despite my prayers, God refused to take it away. He wouldn’t let me go around it; He made me go through it. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I would not be who God called me to be without it.
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter went from a “No” to a “Yes.” He’d been in discipleship training previously, but only now was it who he was. Again and again, he says, “Yes, I am!” to those he’d feared before. The trials he went through made him a true disciple–one who would change untold numbers of lives!
I keep two crosses on my dresser: The first is a silver crucifix given to me by a Catholic friend. It reminds me of what Jesus has done for me (“Greater love has no man…”). The second is an empty wooden cross…with a place for me. It’s what I offer back to Him, my unqualified “Yes.”
Because the cross isn’t just about who Jesus is. It’s about who I am. Having come through darkness into light, I’m able to say authentically, “Follow me, I know the way!”
“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in this body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” ~Galatians 2:20