What is the True Cost of Following Jesus Christ?
What is the true cost of following Jesus Christ? Everything! Jesus addresses a crowd of people along with his disciples here in this passage in Mark’s Gospel. He has taught them first that if one wants to truly follow him one must first “deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34). Deny oneself? In earthly wisdom this sounds insane. What does Jesus mean? Jesus is talking about the ego here, that self-centered “I” that sees and demands all things for itself. This is the great stumbling block. The reality is that I am nothing without God’s love and faithfulness to me. I did not create myself, and I can not save myself. Only God can do this. Yet my ego so often denies this truth. It is blinded by my inability to see any truth beyond that which I create or am willing to accept for myself. This is what I must let go of in order to follow Jesus. I must submit my will to his will, for his will is perfect and always for the good, while mine, in its finite human “wisdom,” is imperfect, willful, and flawed. In submitting to the will of God, I submit to nothing less than perfect, self-giving and eternally faithful love, true freedom. This is the only way of true happiness, the only way to eternal life. The great irony is that the ego is really, despite all of its bravado, a cowering thing, moved exclusively by fear. Jesus tells us: “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it” (verse 35). The ego is driven by a terrible fear of losing mere things. It fears the loss of things…
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