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ALVEY: Call from Jesus easier said than done

By Jack Alvey | Alvey is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” This call from Jesus is easier said than done. From the human point of view, the way of cross is foolishness but as St. Paul said, “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom.”

In the human mind, the way of the cross is filled with detours, potholes and fires – with dangers, toils and snares. But our faith tells us that the way of the cross is none other than the way of life and peace. In a world where human desires and expectation often lead to disappointment and destruction, I am thankful for a God whose way does not conform to the human way.

Our God is not a crooked politician. Our God will endure even the worst kind of evil this world can muster just to keep his promises. Our God will not be bribed into a popularity contest for ours is a God whose commitment to truth is unwavering.

As the reformer, Martin Luther would say, the human way prefers a theology of glory over a theology of the cross. The theology of glory seeks fame and fortune and popularity while the theology of the cross seeks justice and mercy and truth no matter the cost – even suffering and death. And as Christians, we proclaim the theology of the cross, we follow the way of justice and mercy and truth, a way forged in the way of Jesus Christ – the One who is risen from the dead.

In my Tuesday Bible study, I asked the class, “What have you had to give up in order to be a follower of Jesus?” Someone said, “I’ve had to give up a lot of my time.” Another said, “I’ve had to sacrifice going on vacation.” I said, somewhat jokingly, “a career on the PGA tour.” These are all relatively minor as they relate to the price Jesus paid and the price many have paid to remain obedient to the way of the cross.

However, our faith demands you ask that question, “What do I have to give up in order to be a follower of Jesus?”

And like someone in our Bible study said and like Jesus himself said, when we give something up to follow Jesus, we learn that we aren’t giving up anything at all. Instead, we are gaining everything. We are gaining the world Jesus died for us to see and be a part of.  Those who lose their life for my sake will save it.

The truth of the gospel is truly a paradox. Instead of following our own desires, we are called to follow the desires of God but that doesn’t mean we are called to be miserable. Rather, following the desires of God reveal to us that God’s ways really are better than our ways.  Following the desires of God give us a joy and an inner peace that human ways can never manufacture.

For in the end, what will it profit you to gain the whole world and forfeit the life God prepares for you in Christ Jesus?