Devotional for the week of September 4, 2022

The Fine Print of Discipleship

A lot can go wrong in our lives. If you ever have any doubts, just read the fine print in a contract, where every worst-case scenario is spelled out. Sometimes we appreciate having those challenges hidden away. When we are jumping into something new, it may be easier to take the leap if we don’t dwell too much on what can go wrong.

But that’s not the approach Jesus takes when describing the commitment of discipleship. Instead, he uses big, bold terms to emphasize the struggles and conflicts ahead. Discipleship with him will mean taking up a cross. It will mean confronting our most deeply held commitments—our possessions, relationships, and identities. In fact, the cross at the center of discipleship will be so burdensome that it will seem impossible to shoulder.

Jesus’ words might scare us off if we miss the other half of the agreement. He doesn’t ask us to carry our cross alone. He will be with us as a partner who has already taken the journey from death to resurrected life. In discipleship, Christ leads us and brings the power of God to meet our challenges. Yes, Christ will call us to share the pain of his cross. He will call us to die to old habits, stuck ways of thinking, and broken relationships. But he will also share with us the victory of his cross and the power to rise to new life.

At baptism, we were marked with the cross of Christ forever. That cross marks all of the deaths we will face, but it also marks the beginning of an eternal life with God. Every time we gather in Christian worship, we participate once more in Christ’s journey from death to life. Around the table, we gather as Christ’s disciples, sharing the overwhelming burden of his cross but also its even more abundant victory. Here, our crosses are transformed by the community in which they are held and by Christ, who leads our way.

Devotional message and art based on the readings for August 21st, 2022 reprinted from
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