What are the Conditions of Discipleship?
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). This comes at the end of a short passage where Jesus describes the very challenging conditions of discipleship. To follow Jesus is not a walk in the park. Though these words from Jesus, at first, seem very strange, we need to meditate on them through the eyes of faith, for they express the paradox of divine wisdom. Jesus tells his disciples just prior to today’s passage: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me” (verses 37-38). To the secular mind, concerned exclusively to the material and emotional parts of reality, these words might seem to be utterly crazy. Such a one might think that this Jesus seems arrogant and full of himself. It is only with the eyes of faith that Jesus’ meaning can be fully grasped and accepted with joy. When Jesus tells the disciples that they must be willing to “lose [their] lives” for his sake, he is actually telling them what he is going to do for them. He is going “lose” his life for the sake of all of humanity, freely and willingly. Jesus is revealing to us the real demands of true love here. Love is not about feelings, or what the other does for me. It is about total self-giving, a total emptying of the self for the other. It is not a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of relationship. Nor is it about becoming a doormat to the other. In the…
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