I was part of a staff meeting at my local church to vision and plan for the upcoming year. We've been looking at discipleship, and what that means for us as leaders and for us as the body of Christ. We each read a short passage, and were asked to share our thoughts and share a little bit of background information about the passage.
The passage that I had was Mark 8:34-38 (CSB). 34 Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the gospel will save it. 36 For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life? 37 What can anyone give in exchange for his life? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
The first thing that really struck me was that Jesus' first response was to issue an invitation: Calling the crowd along with his disciples.
However, the next immediate response is a challenge: take up your cross and follow Me.
When we participate in this great exchange - partnering with the Father instead of just our own dreams, the Spirit transforms.
Discipleship, then, appears as a loss to the unknowing eye. When we get to the heart of it, saying YES to discipleship is saying yes to transformation.
Discipleship is related to relationship. The Father isn't after regulations and rules. He's after our hearts. Discipleship looks like loss, but by partnering with a Heavenly Father that lives in abundance and has no lack of resources, we're not really losing anything!
It has been my experience that we're gaining. We're gaining perspective. Gaining vision. Gaining truth and victory and love. Gaining relationship and dreams and grace for the right now, and for the future.
Be encouraged today, friends. Taking up our cross and following Him means we're gaining more than we're losing.