Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | January 30, 2015

January 30, 2015 “The Trapeze or the Cross?”

“Then Jesus said to the disciples, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

Good Morning Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ!

When I was in college, one of the great influences in my journey as a Christian was my college chaplain whose name was Jack Heinsohn. Before becoming a chaplain, Jack was a circus performer…a trapeze artist. Though I never asked him, I have often wondered which he regarded as being the riskier…swinging high above the circus crowds or sharing Christ with a bunch of “wet -behind- the -ears”, “know-it- all” college students. On the surface, the first of these would logically seem to carry the greater danger. Sometimes he would perform without a safety net, and were his timing off even a fraction of a second, physical disaster would loom. And being a chaplain…well, that was no real physical challenge, now was it? All that would be required would be the preparation of a short daily message for chapel, an occasional counseling session, and maybe teach a class or two. He could get by with “living on the boarder” as it were, and not really become immersed in the college culture. Following Christ, after all, is not really a big deal. Read your Bible, say a prayer or two, try to behave in a decent way…that pretty much covers it, right?

Of course, I am being facetious about following Christ. Jesus makes it very plain, and it surprises me a bit as to how easily and cavalierly we can read a passage such as this, quote it, and have it offer no real challenge regarding the way we live as disciples of Christ. We know of the Cross. We preach Christ crucified. We understand the horror and the pain of such a diabolical form of punishment. Add to that our understanding of the fact that while physically suffering the agony and humiliation of such an execution, Jesus was also bearing the weight of sin for all humanity for all time…we get all that. Yet somehow we miss out on the sheer weight of the demand Jesus is making of those who would be disciples. If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” You mean I am expected to endure what he endured? I am to be ready to lay down my life for the sake of being a student of Christ? Perhaps the trapeze thing would be better after all! A writer using the pseudonym “Earnest Worker” noted,

“There is no peace in the border lands. The halfway Christian is a torment to himself and of no benefit to others.”

With Christ, there is no such thing as a “halfway” follower. You’re either “all in” or you’re not. That’s the cost of discipleship. That’s the risk and the expectation. Do you still want to go there, or would you settle for the boarder lands of a relationship with him. You might just as well be swinging on a trapeze, going back and forth, getting nowhere fast. But if you want to know real peace, it comes with a cost. Let’s pray!

Lord God; Help me understand the cost of following you, and though the journey be fraught with danger, the reward far outweighs the risk, for in You alone is peace to be found. Amen!

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