Our Lenten Devotion for Sunday, April 3, comes to us from Steadfast Love which features reflections and prayers by Ed Arle and Gil Duchow with inspiration from the works of Henri J.M. Nouwen.
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 NIV
“The Cost of Discipleship”
“Jesus needs us to fulfill his mission. He needs people to carry the cross with him and for him. He came to show us the way to his father’s home. He came to offer us a new dwelling place, to give us a new sense of belonging, to point us to the true safety. But he cannot do it alone … God [is] dependent on human beings..”
(from Walk With Jesus by Henri J.M. Nouwen, page 34Henri)
There is no cost for our salvation. It is God’s free gift. But there is a cost to being a genuine disciple of Christ. Bearing his cross is a daily joy and challenge. It cannot be a now-and-then type of commitment. Many people are glad to join a church, but few are willing to bear his cross by becoming totally committed to Christ and his mission. At the end of a new member class, where I emphasized the cost of discipleship, a woman asked me quite seriously if we offered social memberships at our church. The cost seemed too much to bear.Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:38 are even harder to bear: “Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” But what a joy and blessing it is when we, in response to Christ’s sacrificial love, give even a cup of cold water to someone in his name (Matthew 10:42).
Like Christ, we are called to become disciples without counting the cost. The rewards are not only eternal, but also earthly. For when we offer ourselves as servants of Christ through service to those whom God has sent us, whether they are close or far away, we indeed (that is, “through our deeds”) take up the cross. We offer witness to God’s unconditional love through Christ. The cost can be great, but the rewards are always even greater.
O Christ, grant me the grace to take up your cross daily and follow you faithfully, whatever the cost might be. Amen.