REFLECTION FOR THE WEEK
“The sacrifice of being a disciple of Christ”
Jesus said to Peter, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). In a nutshell what Jesus is talking about is the sacrifice involved in being his disciple.
For the purpose of this message, the Collins English dictionary, defines sacrifice, as the act of giving up something that is valuable to you in order to help another person. The suggestion here is that in carrying out the sacrifice, it may involve hardship, discipline, abandonment and rejection. But, what is true is that there is no achievement without sacrifice. And, one thing that can prove the truth of this is the marathon, the long distance race of 26.2 miles or 42.195 kilometres, which practically many city in the world now stages, with thousands of people of all ages taking part. The marathon remains one of the ultimate tests of human endurance because apart from the race itself, there are many months of hard training that preceded it. The marathon shows that people are capable of great sacrifices, provided they are motivated.
I ran many years ago in two half marathons in Lambeth, London. I also ran my first and only marathon in November 1994 – the New York marathon in the USA. Of course, I have no hope of winning it but my only reward is the satisfaction that came from completing it, despite the blisters, soreness, acute dehydration and physical exhaustion that accompanied it. You see, I was happy to take on the suffering without complaining because I did it for a good cause, to raise money for repairs and refurbishment of my then parish Church, in Brixton, London. So my running for charity helped me to transcend the pain. As a result, I brought all my energy and strength into it, because it was something I wanted to do and was determined to do.
Beloved, the marathon shows the importance of commitment. In the same way, when it comes to discipleship, Christians need to be committed followers of Christ, and not mere hangers-on. It has been claimed that religion asks too little of people and that often it appeals to people’s weaknesses rather than their strengths.
There is a religion of devotion and a religion of commitment. A religion of devotion is a religion of comfort, and is often centred on self rather than others. However, a religion of commitment is a religion of challenge, of confrontation, of risk, of danger, of unselfishness, generosity and selflessness.
Throughout the gospels, Jesus asks for commitment from you and me and all Christians. I therefore urge you to be a committed christian and remember that suffering for all Christians is not a likelihood but a certainty, as it was part of Jesus’s life.
I am not saying that christians should seek suffering. Jesus Christ, our Redeemer did not seek suffering; as his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane makes clear – “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42, Mark 14:36, Matthew 26:42).
In the same way that there are rewards for marathon runners, there are also great rewards for yours and mine commitment to Christ.
I appeal to you, today and always, to make heroic effort to follow Jesus, day by day, moment by moment. Do it, even when the work is difficult and the future looks bleak.
May the Lord keep you strong in faith and active in good works. May the Lord, who conquered the evil one, keep you brave and strong in time of trial. May the Lord watch over you, keep you in His care, and bless you and all yours with His peace, now and always.
Have a wonderful week.
Ven. Preb. Tunde Roberts