For many of us, coming to believe in Jesus as Messiah and the son of God was a hard, hard, thing to do. I know it was for me. Indeed, Scripture tells us that we can’t come to belief on our own, it is only through God’s grace.
“For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him.”
Ephesians 2:8(a) (The Passion translation)
And yet, it turns out that believe is relatively easy when compared to the day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second work of discipleship, that is, turning away from what we want and toward what God wants.
Consider Mark’s account of Peter’s confession of Christ (Mark 8:27-38). Jesus ask his disciples who do people say that he is and then who do they say that he is. Upon Peter’s identification of Jesus as the Christ, Jesus tells his disciples what it means for him to be Messiah: betrayal, injustice, and death. Peter is unwilling to accept this and rebukes Jesus, who cutting to the heart of the matter, rebukes Peter:
But Jesus turned around, and glancing at all of the other disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, “Get out of my sight, Satan! For your heart is not set on God’s plan but man’s!” Mark 8:33 (The Passion Translation)
Peter believes, he had just confessed Jesus as Messiah, but is heart is not set on God’s plan. Jesus goes on to explain that we really have only two ways open to us. We can give up our lives for true life or continue holding on to our own lives, which leads us to death. We are not given the option of a third way.
Surrendering to Jesus’ ways, taking up his cross, and disowning our own lives is the necessary, continual work of discipleship. It can be hard — very hard. All of us do imperfectly. Most of us do it very imperfectly. The good news is that we don’t have to reshape our own hearts. God does the hard work. We just have to remember to let go and get out of the way so that he can have his way with us. He will, if we let him, keep our hearts set on his plan and not mans.
Are you on the road of discipleship?
This post is derived from a sermon I preached recently. You can listen to that message, if you want more on the hard work of discipleship.