Following Jesus on his terms
It’s not always easy to follow Christ. Of course, as his disciples, we desire to follow him, but to follow him means we must do it on his terms, not ours.
Simon Peter proclaimed that Jesus is the Christ and vowed to follow him, but he stopped short of following Jesus into suffering. He didn’t want Jesus to suffer. He, himself, didn’t want to experience pain and turmoil. Yet that is exactly what Jesus said he must do.
Jesus invites us to follow him as his disciples, but it means we also have to follow him on his terms. To follow Jesus completely is to accept suffering on his behalf. Suffering for Jesus comes in many different forms. For some in our world, it may mean physical persecution and even death. For most of us, however, suffering comes in more subtle forms.
Jesus tells us, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:27-35) When we deny our ego-centered desires and put serving Jesus first, we will experience a little of the cross. It is not easy to give up our personal comfort for the good of others. It means we will get hungry and tired, frustrated and sometimes angry. We may suffer hardships because we chose to live simply rather than pursuing all of the successes this world tells us we should pursue. It means that others will sometimes look at us like we’re crazy or turn their backs on us because we see the world differently - through Jesus’ eyes.
While following Jesus in this world is difficult, Jesus promises us great blessings. He tells us, “Whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:35) When we set aside our personal comfort to follow Jesus by serving others, Jesus will shower us with great joy and peace, even in the midst of suffering.