A Dangerous Business

Why is it so difficult to talk about the struggle of following Jesus?

Anyone who is honest about their Christian Faith would have to admit that following Jesus is often incredibly difficult. Jesus himself warned us of the challenge we would face in trying to follow him, as we can read in chapter 9 of the Gospel of Luke…

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Take a minute to think about what Jesus is telling us:

  1. It is possible to “come after” Jesus – that is, to follow after him – to be his disciple, his student, to learn from him his ways and then to live ourself in his ways…
  2. To do so, we must start by denying ourself. This means we have to abandon our own will – our own desires – our own sense of entitlement. This is not easy! This goes against nearly everything that we’ve ever been taught or seen from others or from society.
  3. After putting aside everything that we want for ourselves, we then have to take up our cross. The cross was one of the most extremely brutal means of death in Jesus’s time, and he says that we have to “take ours up.” What does that look like for us? It sure seems like Jesus was saying that whatever is hard or challenging or costs us a lot, that thing is what we have to embrace. And this isn’t just a one-time event… he says we have to do so daily!
  4. Then, after putting our own agenda on the back burner and embracing whatever painful burden we are facing, we are called to actually follow Jesus. To walk in his footsteps. To go where he went. To do what he did. To be who he is.

I don’t know about you, but that makes me a wee bit nervous! Mostly because I seem to screw this up quite often.

So, I’m going to start writing about that process – about trying to put myself last, about trying to embrace the painful challenges in my life, about trying to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. I’m more than a little nervous, because I must confess I like for people to think that I’m generally a pretty good guy who knows what he’s doing. I’m afraid writing about my struggles and grappling with my questions and sharing my failures will expose my weaknesses and shortcomings a good deal more than I am comfortable with.

But just maybe someone will read this, and it will help him or her feel a little less like he or she is the only one who doesn’t have it all figured out.

And I’ll probably share some other stuff too. Things like…

  • What I’m getting out of the book that I’m reading…
  • How I enjoyed the movie I watched with one of my kids a few weeks ago…
  • My thoughts related to the sermon I preached last Sunday…
  • An article that I’ve read…
  • A photo I love…
  • Ramblings about how Waffle House can never get hash browns crispy enough for me to eat…

There are also some people in my life whose opinions and voices I value – whether I always agree with them all the time about everything or not – and I may try to get them to add to this conversation from time to time.

As I’m writing this, I keep thinking about the warning that Bilbo Baggins gave to his nephew…

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

So here I am, opening my door and taking a step out onto a new road. There’s no knowing where I might get swept off to. If you decide to come along, then I thank you for joining me…

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