Do Not Read This
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:25
As Christians, we believe that we have some responsibility to share our faith with those around us. In our desire that others come to faith, we’re tempted to become salesman for God. In our need to sell him to the unconvinced, we often try to make faith as attractive as possible. To the miserable, enslaved addict, we promise an easy freedom. All you have to do is believe and you’re saved. Once you know Christ – poof – your addiction will be gone, and you’ll be free. It’s that simple!
What the addict hears is, This is easy. I don’t have to do anything. All I have to do is believe. No treatment. No life changes. No painful withdrawal. I just get the miracle of deliverance with no cost to me. Why wouldn’t I do it? So, the addict gives God a try. He whispers the prayer and proceeds to do absolutely nothing. Then, he wonders why he’s back in treatment or jail a few months later.
Jesus didn’t sell an easy faith. He didn’t use flowery promises to talk people into following him. In fact, in today’s passage, he seemed to do just the opposite. In the story, Christ’s resurrection of Lazarus whipped the people into a frenzy of pseudobelief. They liked what they saw, and they wanted more. On Palm Sunday the crowd was ready to crown him king, hoping that he would overthrow the Romans and lead the Israelites to an easy freedom.
Jesus was trending and could have ridden that wave of popularity, but instead he explained what discipleship actually looked like. He said that if we want to follow him and if we truly want eternal life, we must hate our own life so much that we abandon it for him. If we love and follow our own way, we will, in the end, find only death and destruction. Paradoxically, the only way to find true life, is to abandon our way for God’s.
To the exuberant crowd who wanted the easy answer, and to us, Jesus says, Don’t follow me. Don’t follow me unless you truly want to change. Being a disciple means abandoning your old life. That is the only way to find the new one. I’m not the easiest way. I’m The Only Way. Follow me, only if you’re ready for radical change.