Luke 9:23

And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for you to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit your very self?

This is the main passage that i preached from this week at church. Over the days that I studied and meditated on this, i was challanged beyond measure. In the wake of the Hurricane over the weekend, this passage convicted me in so many ways.

Basically, I get the sense that I (and most likely we) so often sell short the call of Jesus. We have somehow redefined “follow me” as something that is comfortable and somewhat easy that comes with only mild discomfort.

Jesus, on the other hand, defines “following me” as something that requires us to be willing to die for. Literally. The disciples would have heard Jesus say, “I am going to be killed. Come on and join me.” Somehow, we tend to hear Jesus say something much more tame. (Hey, I am at least speaking for myself here, I don’t mean to implicate you too).

I’ve had to ask myself. How far am I willing to follow Jesus? What will I forsake to follow Him? How in my life am I selling this short?

Really, I think the biggest opposition to our following Jesus in the way he calls us is our need and desire for comfort.

Think about it, we live our lives to make us as comfortable as possible. In the process of this, the more comfortable that we are, the “fatter” we get and the harder it is to see and hear the call of Jesus on our lives. That is, to put intentionally ourselves in danger by following Jesus. We don’t do that. What we do is, we do all we can to stay away from danger. However, Jesus gives us a direct call to us to put ourselves right in the way of danger and death (thanks to Tim Keel for that thought).

I read a quote from Rocky III this weekend that really helped things make sense for me. It’s the one where Rocky starts getting really successful and rich and loses his edge and, as a result, loses that “eye of the tiger.”

Mick, his crazy old trainer says something profound,

“The worst thing happened to you, that can happen to any fighter: you got civilized”

I think part of our problem is that we are too civilized. We are so comfortable with our lives that we lose the intensity of what Jesus calls us to. Think about all those “new believers” that you met that were so “on fire” for Jesus, then, they got civilized and became fairly tame.

I think weeks like this, where we have a hurricane shock our world, we are forced to become a bit uncivilized. We are forced to view images of death and pain that we don’t really want to watch. We’d rather suppress it and pretend its not there (like we do with most other things whenever we can – after all, we most often really care about things that have direct affect on us. If it doesn’t affect me directly, I can pretend it doesn’t exist). But, the scope of something like Katrina leaving millions of people homeless does not allow us to ignore it.

We are forced to realize that our personal comfort is not the goal of human life. We are forced to realize that the world is a lot bigger than our little daily, mundane lives.

Of course, a few weeks and months go by and the disaster is no longer on the news and we get civilized again. We go back to “normal life.” Again, our biggest enemy is our own comfort.

It’s my prayer that I live my life as uncivilized as possible. That I would never be wrapped up in my own comfort and that in the name and way of Jesus, I would truly live my life for the sake of others. Not only that, but my community would be a bit uncivilized and we would collectively be more concerned about others before ourselves.

What good is it for me to gain the comforts of the whole world, yet forfeit my very soul?

God, teach me how to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. I sell myself so short and I daily don’t get what this means. God, help our community to learn the same.