“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23 NASB
I am a time and schedule freak. Anyone who knows me well knows how much of a slave I sometimes am to the clock. I get frustrated when there is no schedule, or when the schedule is not followed. I am getting better, but I even schedule every minute of vacation or my day off.
The problem with my problem is found in the passage in Luke 9. I wish to follow Jesus, so the first part of the passage is not negotiable. The problem for me is in the second half – denying myself, which means allowing Jesus to wreck my schedule. Weddings and baptisms can be planned, but funerals and hospital visits always come at inconvenient times. They come at times when I already had something scheduled. But I am a Jesus follower, so my schedule has to take second place.
Serving is another schedule wrecker. We are called to serve others when the need presents itself even if our plans for the day have to be sacrificed. Serving at Elevate on a Saturday morning is great but what about all the other stuff our family has scheduled already? The needs in our city have to take priority at some point or the needs never get met.
This problem is not unique with just me. We are consumers by nature and we typically say yes to things that satisfy a felt need in our lives. Church has catered to this idea by offering ministry opportunities for all the felt needs of their congregations. I believe in meeting needs and I believe in knowing the condition of the flock so they can receive ministry and care. I just wonder when the last time we were inconvenienced or when following Jesus actually cost us anything.
Suffering and sacrifice are a part of the deal when you choose to follow Jesus. That is what Jesus said in Luke 9. He said we would not have to go looking for sacrifice or invite suffering upon ourselves. He said it would come to us and that we should not avoid it. He said we would be inconvenienced and that we should count the cost. What has it cost us?
I believe we are saved by grace, justified by faith and made more like Jesus because of the work of the Holy Spirit. I do not believe we should get in suffering contests to see which of us can impress God the most. I am not advocating a religious lifestyle. However, I am advocating a life that is marked by self-denial, sacrifice and choosing to be inconvenienced whenever necessary.