I was inspired...
Life is great right? Let's see we have school, work, school, work, sleep, eat, school, and work. Wait. It seems like something is missing. Yes, something is missing and I was reminded of it today at church during the sermon. Today's Gospel reading was from Mark 8:27-35. Now you don't have to get your Bibles out unless you really want to, I think I can sum it up.
In this section Jesus poses the question "Who do they say that I am?" Well, there are lots of answers such as John ht Baptist, Elijah, and a prophet. I like next question that He asks: who do you say that I am? What a great question. Who is Jesus? Well, there are many texts throughout the Bible to know who Jesus is. God says, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him" (Mk 9:7, Mt 17:5). There are also many descriptions in the Old Testament, so we know exactly who Jesus is. He even tells us that He is the Son of Man and will suffer greatly and die, then in three days rise. Needless to say, we know who Jesus is.
The better question is what is our relationship with Him? We know who He is, but is He more than just someone whose life story we know? The excerpt from Mark goes on to explain exactly what type of relationship He is looking for with us, and it is not an easy relationship. However, it is one filled with love and hope. When Peter pulls Jesus aside and starts to rebuke Him about all the things He's been saying (suffer, die rise, etc). What does Jesus say? “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” What does He mean here? Well, it can be interpreted twofold. First, Peter was trying to lead. He was trying to put everything in his control. Does this sound familiar? I know that sometimes I catch myself listing off all the things I need from God, and I want to be in charge of everything. But this is not how God intended it. Jesus calls us to follow. He never said, "Get up, take your cross and go ahead. I'll follow you." No. He says, "“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” Hmmm. That sounds like the complete opposite of what we want to do. Remember when I said that the relationship Jesus seeks with us isn't easy? This is why. We are to deny ourselves, which can be the hardest thing to do. How many times do we say "I" or "me" in a day? We must deny ourselves and take up our cross. It is heavy, but God never gives us more than we can chew. In fact, the hardest times we face, He knows we will rock it, but only if we allow Him to take us through it. We may not be able to lead in front of Jesus, but He is always willing to slow down to walk with us.
This is the type of relationship God is seeking with us: an intimate relationship full of love and hope. Yes, it will be hard, but hey if life was easy then we wouldn't be able to fully appreciate what it is that we are given, right? Just remember the next time you are feeling stress or feel like all you do is eat, work, school, and sleep: Jesus is right there next to you, walking through it with you. It's important to take a moment and say thank you, and tell Him some of your burdens. Just like Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus with His cross on the way to Calvary, Jesus will help up bear our cross. So, just remember to follow Jesus and ask Him to walk with you. It is a much better situation than admiring Him from afar.