Guarding and proclaiming the unchanging truth in a changing world

Thankful for… the Upward Call of Discipleship (Luke 9:23-24)

16th November 2020
Audio: 

Thankful for… the Upward Call of Discipleship (Luke 9:23-24)

The Rev. Caleb Evans

As Christians, we bless the Lord and thank him for the call to follow Jesus, even though the walk of discipleship is a challenge. Look at the terms Jesus uses to beckon us to follow him in Luke 9:23-24: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

Jesus is clear that there is a cost involved in following him. Salvation, of course, is a free gift of God’s grace, and we can do nothing to earn it, but there is a sense in which Christian discipleship is a costly thing. Why is that? It is costly because we will face trials and tribulations as we follow Jesus, and we will die to ourselves.

To be clear, however, the cost of choosing not to follow Jesus is enormous. We all follow something. If we are not following Jesus, we are going to be pursuing something else. Whatever that something else may be, it is bound to disappoint us.

Many of us are tempted to follow ourselves. We are tempted to follow our own worldly wisdom and sinful desires. That leads not only to shallow self-centeredness in this life, it also ultimately leads to destruction. If I treat myself as my own master, I am sure to be let down. I will be disappointed as I try to navigate this life with only my limited understanding to guide me. If I treat myself as my own master, I will certainly be disappointed when I perish in my sins. I may even accumulate great material wealth and acquire worldly honor, but those things will not last for eternity and will never satisfy my heart. Only Jesus can do that. As Jesus says: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

We can also be tempted to live as disciples of other sinful human beings instead of living as disciples of Jesus. In my culture, many people look to celebrities for guidance. People will often seek to imitate celebrities as a pattern of living, without stopping to consider if following other fallible human beings is wise. Others are tempted to base their lives on the teachings of worldly philosophers or self-help teachers. To do so is to build a house upon a foundation of sand.

We may find ourselves tempted to follow false religion. Jesus is clear that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father but by him (John 14:6). Looking to false religion, instead of looking to Jesus, will not benefit us in this life or in the age to come. It is impossible to have fellowship with God outside of Christ, and there is salvation in no one else.

On the other hand, whatever the cost, the call to follow Jesus is always worth it. Whatever challenges we may face, we have the assurance that we will never face them alone if we know Jesus. We have the assurance that, even if we lose everything that we are tempted to call our own, we will gain everything that really matters. 

We bless the Lord for calling us to discipleship. We thank God for calling us to entrust our lives to the One who saved us by his blood. We praise the Lord that, even as we die to ourselves, we find abundant life in Jesus that never ends.

The Rev. Caleb Evans
Pastor of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Plainville, Connecticut, a parish in the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word, a diocese in the Anglican Church in North America. 

Prayer: 

From the BCP 2019 Prayers of the People:

Prosper, we pray, all those who proclaim the Gospel of your kingdom throughout the world, and strengthen us to fulfill your great commission, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all that you have commanded.

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