“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
- Matthew 16.24
...this is the truth of the gospel, that the true disciples of Christ crucified should follow Him with the cross.
- Columbanus, Letter to His Disciples, Irish, 7th century
What should we expect as the “normal road” of following Jesus? I mean the “normal” Christian life, what we look forward to our lives being like every day as we walk the path with Jesus. What should we expect?
The phrase, “from glory to glory” comes to mind (2 Cor. 3.12-18).
Jesus Himself is clear: following Him means self-denial, suffering, and sacrifice for others.
OK, but how do we do that?
“From glory to glory.”
Jesus did not promise us comfort and convenience in this life of following Him; He promised us grace sufficient for all our needs, but only as long as we follow where He leads.
He leads in the way of service, giving to others, going the extra mile, considering others and their needs above our own, thinking about how to encourage, affirm, edify, and love our neighbors – dying to self so that Jesus might live through us to others (Jn. 13.1-15).
In living this way, we follow Jesus as He leads in the way of righteousness, along a path marked out by the commandments of God (1 Jn. 2.1-6), and as He leads us to proclaim the Kingdom of God, which He has brought near (Matt. 4.17).
“From glory to glory.”
Meet with Jesus every day, first thing, and gaze upon the glory in His face (2 Cor. 4.6). Linger there over the Word, in prayer – linger, and allow the Spirit to open the eye of your heart to the full, grand, and glorious vision and power of Christ exalted, filling all things with Himself (Eph. 1.15-23). Let the Spirit use that glorious vision to work transformation in your outlook, desires, and priorities. Then go forth from that glory to live out the glory of Jesus in all the everyday details of your life, taking your cross for others’ sake in all you do (1 Cor. 10.31).
That’s the normal Christian life.
Where are the followers of Jesus today? What would a cross on your back look like each day? Is the pursuit of holiness your daily quest? How often does the Kingdom of God show up on your lips? Does the glory of Jesus impel you? Do your neighbor’s concerns and needs take priority over yours?
If we follow Jesus only as far as is convenient, or only so long as our comfort is not disturbed, then would we dare to consider that to be a cross-bearing, Law-keeping, Kingdom-proclaiming life? Such a life is not the normal Christian life, but sub-normal, and perhaps not truly Christian at all.
Our unbelieving neighbors and friends will believe we have found the truth when we are willing to give up everything we consider precious in order to follow Jesus in the glory-to-glory path of self-denial, sacrifice, holiness, and witness.
Then again, they may despise us as we do, just as they despised Jesus. They may even take advantage of us, scorn or belittle us.
But then, at least, we will know we are the followers of the Lord, when we share in His suffering. For then we will see as He did the joy that is set down before us as true disciples indeed (Heb. 12.1, 2).
The normal Christian life?
Glory to glory.
Psalm 45.45 (Warrington: “Give to Our God Immortal Praise”)
So let us all in our Savior confide, and in His holy Law abide.
Let us observe His glorious Word, and praise our sovereign, faithful Lord!
Lord, under no trials, no toils, and no troubles let me fail to follow wherever You lead. Adapted from Columbanus, Sermon IV
I suspect some might consider the “normal Christian life” to be rather less demanding than what’s outlined here. After all, that’s not what most of us live, is it? And our preachers don’t “lean on” us for anything nearly as “normal” as the “glory-to-glory” life described above.
So, where does that leave you?
Isn’t it about time we demanded more of ourselves? And of one another?
When “normal” is “glory to glory” in your life, folks will want to know how to get in on that.
Psalms to Pray for Today and Thursday
Morning: Psalm 119.89-96; Psalm 108
Evening: Psalm 34
Morning: Psalm 119.97-104; Psalm 109
Evening: Psalm 35
T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Walker, p. 31.