It’s life, but not as we know it, Or do we!
Its life, but not as we know it! This is the famous quote from Spock, our pointed ear friend from the much loved series Star Trek. What Spock didn’t realise was that within that quote lies a deeper truth that Jesus spoke of 2000 years ago.
The Life that Jesus was talking about was at the heart of his call to true discipleship and it is one which he not only instructs his first disciples Matthew, Mark, Luke and John 2000 years ago but he instructs us also, you and me! The call is this:
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."
Ok so let’s just press the rewind button a minute. Just picture this: Jesus has just finished telling his disciples that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter obviously shocked by Jesus’ statement decides to challenge Jesus by saying “Never Lord! This shall never happen to you!” Peter and the other disciples present could not have been ready for the reply that was about to follow from their mentor and leader. Jesus states “Get behind me Satan; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of man.”
Jesus, possibly a little frustrated by his disciple’s lack of faith, however, looks to use this gaffe by Peter as an opportunity for a lesson in discipleship. So he calls a crowd to him and states, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Wow what a scenario. You may be thinking what I was thinking that Peter’s gone and put his foot in it again - well done chump. However, let’s just reflect on this a minute and look to learn something from both teacher and disciple.
1. I want to challenge each of our thinking here and say how often do we, like Peter, challenge Jesus in our thoughts and behaviour because what Jesus teaches and demands doesn’t quite fit with the way we see things!. What do we need to change so that we are living in loving obedience to Jesus and not to our own selfish ambition?
2. Let’s now look at Jesus response to Peter. Jesus says “Get behind me Satan; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of man”. Jesus realises that there is a battle going on for Peters mind. Peter obviously identifies Jesus as the Son of God, the messiah, but his thinking is still in a state of conflict and lack of understanding that Jesus Christ must die and be raised to life. So Jesus looks beyond his disciple’s immaturity and gets straight to the heart of the matter. He charges Satan with the trickery of his disciple’s mind.
So what can we learn from this? Well if we have made a commitment to Christ then there is most definitely a battle going on for our minds. Satan is the enemy of our souls, he is the deceiver and liar and anything that comes into our minds which isn’t as the apostle Paul states as ‘true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable,’ in simple terms which doesn’t agree with the bible, then we must take captive and make it obedient to Christ. in simple terms which doesn’t agree with the bible, then we must take captive and make it obedient to Christ.
3. The last point I want to make is one that Jesus cries out to the crowd and to all his disciples throughout history, that if we are to follow him we must "deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. So what does this mean:
> To deny ourselves literally means we must not look to satisfy our own desires and selfish nature, but we must live from an attitude of love which leads to acts of service to even those we don’t agree with or speak wrongly of us.
> Taking up our cross and follow him, means we must reflect him in our generation and setting today, whether that be school, college or work and follow the author of life and lover of our souls, no matter what the cost.