Each of us has moments, choices, circumstances in our lives that act as a watershed — experiences dividing our life into everything “before” and everything “after.” The event doesn’t have to be devastating or dramatic. Sometimes it is joyful and exhilarating. Sometimes it is a quiet realization. Sometimes it takes decades for us to even determine just when that moment occurred.
You have a parent or a sibling die. You are the first in your family to go away to college. You enlist in the military. You get married. You become a parent. You win the lottery. You declare bankruptcy. You have a heart attack . . . but you wake up.
Whatever it may be, the event changes your perspective, changes your life’s trajectory, changes your dreams, and changes your goals. All is different now.
“Before” you lived in one world. “After” you live in a different world.
A different world is what Jesus kept trying to describe to his disciples. A world so completely topsy-turvy to their experience they found it incomprehensible.
The disciples think they have already had their “watershed” moment, that their lives changed when they were called by Jesus to “Follow me.” But the disciples had no idea what “discipleship” meant. They felt empowered by their chosen-ness. But they had no sense of the cost of their calling. They did not understand that to be a “disciple” was to be “under discipline.”
Discipleship is the carrying of the cross of Christ. But the cross is not a burden. The cross is a death. “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die,” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his classic The Cost of Discipleship. Come and die to self. Come and die to the world. Come and die, that we might go and live. The emptying of self (kenosis) is for the filling of Christ (plerosis).
Jesus changed everything into Before and After. Jesus inverted all the hierarchies that the world holds so dear. The strongest are not the strongest. The weakest are not the weakest. The most righteous are not the most righteous. The most knowledgeable don’t know-it-all. The outsider is welcomed inside and becomes the ultimate insider.
There is only one power and presence that unites us all. That is the name of Jesus.
Dear Lord, help me to know that I live in a different world in a different time… your world… your time. I know that I live too much in the before and not enough in the after… help me to be your disciple, in and through Jesus. Amen.
I have published three new books which are listed at the bottom of the header above. I would be very grateful if you would take the time to click on each title and read a sample chapter. The Sayings of Noah is a sermon series I wrote for Lent which came from the sayings my grandson, Noah, made around the time he was four years old. It is a lite Lenten approach. The Daily Moments with Pastor Steve are daily devotionals. And the Grieving Heart is a collection of uplifting funeral homilies I have given over the years. I hope you will enjoy reading these and even more I hope they will help you help others.