I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to be one of the disciples of Jesus – to hear his words, to see his miraculous works, to walk with him on dirt paths, to eat with him. That all sounds cozy and warm. Yet, I don’t really want to experience what he taught and lived – especially the notion that to follow him I must deny myself, take up my cross and die. Even though that is just what his faithful apostles did.[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
History teaches us that:
- Peter was crucified upside down.
- Andrew was crucified.
- James, son of Zabedee, was beheaded.
- Philip was crucified.
- Bartholomew was crucified, filleted, then beheaded.
- Thomas was pierced with five spears.
- Matthew the evangelist was burned to death.
- James, the son of Alphaeus, was crucified.
- Thaddaeus or Jude, brother of James, was crucified.
- Simon the zealot was crucified.
- Matthias was stoned then beheaded with an ax when dead.
- Paul was beheaded.
- Only John, the brother of James, died in peace.
What a strange way to advance the gospel – make sure the most prominent members of the movement die ingloriously. Perhaps we’ve got it wrong?
When was the last time you heard of a gospel program that included death as one of its methods? “Folks, in order for your neighbors to be saved, you have to give up your life. Live the gospel of Jesus Christ is such a way that it costs you everything.” Evangelization by elimination. Crucifixion evangelism. I’m not sure you’d sell a lot of product.
Sadly, many try to evangelize by showing people how prosperous they will become if they follow Jesus. No wonder Christianity is losing its impact on society, culture, and individual lives.
Now you can see why I’m uncomfortable with all the talk about being a disciple of Jesus and discipling others. I hardly ever deny myself or take up the cross of death or actually follow the ways of Jesus. I talk a lot about it but never do it. I can’t even deny myself caffeine or sugar or a smart-mouth remark for Jesus’ sake let alone my life. How pitiful is that?!?
When I see what it cost these real disciples and apostles of Jesus, I’m conflicted regarding my own comfortable lifestyle. And I despise the fact that I want to live even more comfortably. Though there’s nothing I can do about the plentiful time in history in which I live, there is something I can do about its influence on my life.
I’ve already had caffeine and sugar this morning. I guess today I’ll just start by keeping my mouth shut when I want to say something stupid.
How will you live today in denying yourself, dying, and following Jesus? Share your thoughts below.