Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
— Matthew 16:24 (NRSV)
This appears as a tough Word. Even the most self-accountable of us will shudder at this radical concept of discipleship, according to Jesus. But if we are to be disciples of Jesus, followers of the Messiah, to abide as branches connected to the Vine, our lives are not just about taking up our crosses; they are about transformation, also.
But note the connection: to take up one’s cross and follow Jesus is to become transformed. Discipleship is blessing as it is a blessing to know that, regarding discipleship, transformation in Jesus’ name is the only true blessing. We know God by transformation.
How then might we know such a transformation?
We must live our faith.
Not only should we read our Bibles and pray and spend time with other Christians along life’s journey, but we should also actively participate in the Kingdom. By this, we are Jesus’ disciples and we are transformed, and we have stories of transformation to tell.
What Are the Catalysts For Transformation?
Let’s look at some cogent examples that will extrapolate our sense of transformation, whilst they bless God’s kingdom:
- We do something tangible for the poor or marginalised in our backyard. We don’t shun them or ignore the tug of the Spirit as we walk past. We stop and help. We are transformed.
- When we are confronted with a workplace situation where someone is struggling, we go beyond what would be expected and express true empathy. Who knows, the opportunity to pray for somebody might arise.
- We take God seriously in our families. We commit to becoming better, more patient and gentle fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. We love like we never have done before.
- We take the sins in our lives with earnest seriousness. We agree with God to repent, and we add to that commitment the courage to confess it before God in someone else’s presence. Such a turning point is a catalyst for action.
- We give something that is of value to us away. Upon the leading of God we think nothing of it as we put it up for someone else to have who needs it; who would truly value it. And we refuse to regret it.
- Admitting that we are dispassionate about hospitality, we invite another family over for a meal; a family who might need it or need the love, just now, that we could provide. We sacrifice our time, money and effort for someone else’s gain, and we don’t seek to be thanked—but we accept their thanks graciously.
- We find something we are good at and we give something back to our church; and to our society. We serve, and in our serving we are transformed.
- Finally, how many of us truly allow the Word of God or prayer to penetrate us and ignite transformation? How long has it been since we read one of the gospels all through in one sitting? We could not read Matthew, Mark, Luke or John all the way through and not be transformed.
These are but eight examples. The list is endless. There are no limits to love, just as there are no limits to how we might follow God. We look for evidence of transformation. Above all, we prayerfully consider how we might take up our crosses, and we even set achievable goals.
Being a disciple of Jesus’ is a daily, moment-by-moment commitment to take up our crosses and follow him. We look for evidence of transformation in our lives to determine our willingness and obedience to follow.
Saying “yes” to Jesus is about being a disciple of our Saviour and putting him up as our unabridged Lord and King. Saying “yes” to Jesus is agreeing we want to be transformed. Saying “yes” to Jesus is taking up our cross and following him precisely where his Spirit leads us. Saying “yes” to Jesus is the wisest thing we could do.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.