A post-Easter Day personal reflection on Christian discipleship in a world stubbornly devoted to the worship of self.
Jesus said, “To be my follower, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me. For to save your life is to lose it and to lose your life for my sake is to find it.”
In this, Jesus, for me, unites theology, concerning my relationship with God, and ethics, concerning my relationships with everyone else, and, thereby, underscoring an inescapable connection between what I believe and how I behave. This, therefore, is not practical advice. Jesus is not saying, “Paul, it would be nice, even good if you lived this way.” Rather this is how God created this world. Any other way resists God’s purpose, which is the life and love of communion and community. Self-centered living leads to isolation and misery.
(I am old enough to remember the frequent use of the term “self-made man.” During my formative years, this always was a complimentary description of a person whose success derived from individual ability and effort without external aid and often having overcome worldly disadvantages. However, I also recall this bit of wisdom of Benjamin Franklin: “A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”)
On another note, concerning belief and behavior, it occurs to me that religion (the word derived from the Latin religare, meaning “to bind”) holds me together, providing shape and sense to my living. In this, it is easy for me to conceptualize religious principles as abstractions, which I strive to apply to my life – what I think and feel, intend and do.
Not so with Jesus. For he, again and for me, describes life as God created it, thus, the way life works: To save life is to lose it. To lose life for his sake is to find it.
Amen. So be it.
And, as he doesn’t force me, but rather calls me to exercise my freewill in choosing, so be it for me.
© 2022 PRA
Illustration: Christ Carrying the Cross (1590-1595), Doménikos Theotokópoulos aka El Greco (1541-1614)
 Matthew 16.24-25 (my adaptation)
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