2 Mar 2017
Jesus says some pretty hard words today: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself. Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it.” In other words, if we’re going to call ourselves Christians, we have to be willing to give up everything. And that’s a very hard thing to accept. In fact, we usually fight against it.
Remember the story of the “rich young man”? He came to Jesus and asked, “What do I need to do to have the fullness of life (what we call “eternal life)?” And Jesus said, “Go sell what you have, and give the rest away, and then come follow me.” But the rich young man couldn’t do it. He just couldn’t let go of what he thought was valuable, and so he went away sad.
And a lot of times that’s like us. We want to follow Jesus, we want to be a good disciple, we want to be like the saints and be really strong in our faith. But then Jesus says something like, “You don’t need that new video game; put it down and come pray with me.” Or he might say, “You could give people a break and be nicer to them; so go love your enemies like I asked you to.” And sometimes those are hard things Jesus asks of us.
Maybe that’s why he says, “If anyone wishes to be a Christian, he must take up his cross daily.” The cross is all those things which are hard to do, but which are the right thing to do. Sometimes the cross means doing your homework. Sometimes the cross means forgiving someone, or admitting that you were wrong. Sometimes the cross means going to a person you trust and saying, “I need help.” Those are hard things to do, but they’re the right things to do—even if they aren’t really what we want to do.
But that’s part of being a good Christian, and it’s part of Lent: being willing to say, “I don’t always know what’s best for me . . . but God does.” The challenge is to put God first, and us second. It’s hard work, but it’s good work. May God give us the strength and courage to trust him more, and to do what is right and good, even if it’s not what we want.