Following Jesus as his disciple is not easy — then or now!
In the gospels Jesus never left his followers with the impression that being his disciple would be easy. He realized that it would involve a radical break with their past — yes, even with their families: "If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."
And so Jesus prepares his followers to expect criticism, even persecution, for following him. And as he predicted, a growing division soon arose between Jews who followed Him and Jews who remained committed to their traditional synagogue communities. Eventually this division resulted in Jesus' followers being expelled from their local synagogues. Following Jesus even divided some of his disciples from their families.
But Jesus did not hesitate to ask his disciples to embrace this cross of criticism, criticism by the dominant Jewish communities and even by their own families, "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple." Jesus expected his disciples to follow him despite lack of approval by their Jewish culture and even by their own families.
Our contemporary culture is becoming more and more secular. It ignores -- and even openly disparages -- world views that include God, Jesus and religious values. Tragically more and more Christians, influenced by secular culture, are embracing agnostic and secular world views and abandoning commitment to God, Jesus and church.
Following Jesus as his disciple was not easy then and is not easy now!
We Christians are challenged to resist the secular conditioning of our culture and to become forthright in committing ourselves openly to following Jesus. Not unlike the first followers of Jesus, we too risk criticism as we openly witness to the centrality of Jesus in our lives to our families, friends and communities.
But the Lord's presence in our lives makes it all worthwhile:
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?
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