Read: Luke 9:23-25
“I’m giving up chocolate for Lent.”
“I’m off meat/caffeine/Facebook during Lent. It’ll be good for me.”
You’ve probably heard—or even said—something like this. Many people use this season of Lent to exercise aspects of self-denial or sacrifice. For some, it’s a personal discipline, or a time when they remove specific distractions to focus more fully on their spiritual walk.
While God offers no spiritual “brownie points” because you give up coffee or meat or your smartphone for a few weeks, it is always a good time for a spiritual tune-up, reflecting on how you’re doing as a disciple of Jesus, as you anticipate Holy Week and the celebration of Easter.
You see, when Jesus calls you to be His disciple, it’s going to cost you. Several times in Luke 9, Jesus points out just what it will take to follow Him. In verses 23-25, He spells it out: “Deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me.”
Deny yourself—that’s a tall order. Most of us live “me first.” We like our own way; we hold tightly to our creature comforts, our plans, ideas, and will. The denial Jesus speaks of is more than giving up coffee! It’s a daily choice to set aside your agenda, needs and desires, and take up His instead.
When Jesus talks about taking up a cross in Luke 9, it must have puzzled his followers. To them, a cross would have spelled judgment, execution, and dishonorable death. They didn’t see it yet as the visible point of salvation—something that speaks of forgiveness, grace, and freedom from sin.
Taking up the cross is a willingness to step into life as Jesus did; to walk the way of the cross, dying to our selfish, self-centered, sin-bound ways, and living by His purpose and plan.
This choice is not to be taken lightly. Being a disciple of Jesus is more than “being good” for a few weeks of Lent. It’s going to cost you something—your whole life. In Luke 14: 25-35, Jesus compares it to building a tower, and carefully calculating all the expenses of time, materials, labor, etc.
Through this Lenten season, we’ll ask and consider five questions to evaluate or reflect on being a disciple of Jesus. As a disciple of Jesus…
Do I have His heart for people?
Do I willingly risk my security to faithfully follow Him?
Do I live in the power of His presence?
Do I follow the Spirit’s prompting that leads me to multiply disciples?
Do I act on the promise that He has called and equipped me for the task?
As we consider these questions, we’ll draw on stories from the Bible and from our fellow disciples around the world to remind us of this glorious journey Jesus calls us into.
Yet, here at the beginning, take a moment and consider the cost, to stand before the Savior and say, ”Yes, I’m ready and willing to follow, no matter where You lead, no matter what.”
Consider this: Denying yourself, losing your life for Christ (Luke 9:24) may not involve physical death but setting aside all your plans and goals, dreams and affections in favor of His plan. Does that seem easier than dying? Or harder?
Prayer: Jesus, my salvation cost you everything, and I thank you for that gift. My sacrifice could never equal yours, but I’m willing to count the cost, deny myself, and live as your disciple. Thank you for choosing me, loving me, and empowering me to live this life through the Holy Spirit. Amen.
–Barbara Gerhart, Global Disciples