I love this quote “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” I have never read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship. I often see this quote scrolling through Facebook and when I see it, there is this reassuring “yes” deep down inside of me. This quote is similar to what I heard when I committed my life to Christ. I heard that I get a new life. That was the glimmer of hope lying ahead of me. However, the new life costs the tiny (or not so tiny, depending on how much you like your life when you give it) price of your old life. It costs your old behavior, your creature comforts, your coping mechanisms, it costs you everything that would have preserved your old ways. Including getting your own way. Yes, Jesus asks you to die first. Then follow Him.
The corresponding scripture to the quote from Bonhoeffer is this: “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to follow Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.'” (Matthew 16:24-25) Our humanness is what wants preservation, our spirit wants transformation. That is the tension. When we give up our life, we learn over time that for every life preservation moment, there is a corresponding moment to die and follow. My husband and I talk about this a lot. He will come home and say, “There was a car broken down on the side of the road and the driver needed help. I didn’t want to stop because I just wanted to get home.” That is the self preservation side of him. Then there are other days he will tell me the same story but at the end, “sorry I was late, I decided to stop.” We all have those daily choices. How often do we depart the path behind our savior to maintain our schedule rather than deny ourselves to help someone in need? Probably more often than we would want to admit.
Then there are those self preservation moments where we have dreams and desires and wants and dreams and desires and wants…you get the picture. American life is full of this to such a distraction that we hang on to things that are bad for us in order to look good to the world around us. Following Jesus might ask us to let go of the hopes and dreams we had before we were made new. There are a lot of preaching voices that say the opposite of that. I know, I listen to them a lot. It gets me a little confused sometimes. I truly believe that my old hopes and dreams died when I died. I truly believe that God will show me new hopes and dreams as I grow in love and trust for him. My old hopes and dreams were self created and self preserving. Those hopes and dreams will be replaced with the hopes and dreams sowed into my created value before I was born, into my identity in Christ. Why? Because without knowing God, believing in Jesus, and hearing the Holy Spirit, I don’t believe I can know what I was created for. My old way was to pick and choose. My new way is to search Him and follow. And as I search Him and follow, He will reveal my purpose. A purpose not created by me but created for me. My God given created purpose is so much bigger and so much better than anything I could have ever thought or imagined. The same is for every believer. There is a big life waiting for us if we are willing to drop our own agenda and let God show us what we were designed for!
I feel compelled to pray, because my God given purpose is still being revealed. Maybe it is the same for you. I thank you Father God that you created me for a purpose in this time. I thank you that my purpose meets up with your ultimate plan for humanity, that we would all come to know and love you and love others in return. May my heart be full of your love and compassion for others while I walk out my purpose in my life. I thank you for Jesus and the path that I follow Him on. I thank you that it is narrow, reducing the choices that I have to make. I thank you that your yolk is easy and burden is light and when I choose to follow Jesus it displays your splendor.