The Rector Writes.... March 2020

All sorts of people that I speak to seem confused about what a Christian is.

Now, that might not matter too much, if nothing else depended on it.

But when it comes to whether or not I really am a Christian, well the stakes could hardly be higher.

To borrow Bill Shankly’s words, “it’s not a matter of life and death, it’s far more important than that.”

So, what does Jesus say about this?

‘Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.’ (Luke 9: 23)

Speaking at a crucial turning point, Jesus challenges the disciples about His identity and their commitment to Him: ‘who do the crowds say I am?’ (18). It is at this point that He ‘resolutely set out for Jerusalem’ (9:51). On our journey through Lent, as we look to events of Good Friday and Easter, what are our priorities as Jesus’ disciples to be?

To deny ourselves: this means to saying No to ourselves and Yes to God, as we humbly submit our will to His. Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane ‘not My will but Yours be done.’ (Luke 22:42). It means putting Jesus first in everything: our work, family, ambitions, possessions, marriage, finance, and future.

We must not be guided by narrow, short-term self-interest, but by allowing God to show us how to live in His way.

To take up our cross: this reminds us that the disciple is not immune from suffering, as we follow Jesus along the way of cross. Just as He carried his cross to Golgotha, we cannot avoid experiencing suffering. 

Every day we are to live in way that demonstrates to everyone that we have died to ourselves, our selfish ways and ambitions, and seek to live for God. It means breaking old habits and ways of thinking, as we allow God to make us new by His Spirit.

In all of this we cannot lose, because like Jesus, it is only through death that we find God’s new life. ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.’ (Jim Elliot)