Here’s a short Lenten devotional I was honored to write for our Student Ministries devotional for Lent. Regardless of your views on evangelicals and lent, I find it a helpful practice to use the season to reflect on our Savior and prepare our hearts, minds, and lives to identify with his suffering, death, and resurrection. If you’d like to subscribe the university’s Student Ministries devotional, subscribe here.
My prayer through this is that God would be glorified, my joy would be multiplied, and you would be invited into that worship and delight.
When Jesus calls us, we follow him.
When we follow Jesus’s calling, our story becomes joined with his story.
When we follow Jesus, we do more than consider the cost of following him, we pay the cost.
When we follow Jesus, persecution is sure to come.
Recently, twenty-one of our Coptic brothers were ushered out of this life and into the presence of Jesus by the hands of persecution, costing them their lives. Their story became his story. They were counted worthy to lose their life, only to find it in Jesus.
What is the cost of following Jesus? Or maybe a better question is: Do we think there is a cost to following Jesus? Matthew 10-12 highlights the costs for us, we can’t just ignore these chapters, we must read them.
And if I’m being honest, reflecting any amount of time on the cost of being a follower of Jesus Christ of Nazareth terrifies me. Thoughts plague my mind: What will I do when persecution comes? How will I respond to hostile actions? Will I denounce and recant my faith? Will I be ashamed of the gospel? In that moment of my flesh-filled despair, the Spirit overwhelms me with grace through these words of Jesus, “…do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour” (Matthew 10:19ff).
The call of Jesus is one of trial, hardship, and persecution. The call is one to share in his sufferings (Philippians 3:7ff) and not to fear the killing of our bodies (Matthew 10:28). Still, I wrestle with how can I not be fearful? How can I lose my life for Christ’s sake, only to find it in him?
The beautiful cost of following Jesus is that our story isn’t just supplemented by his story, by the gospel, by Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection–it is completely re-written by his story. Re-written with his suffering and victory.
We have no hope of finding rest outside of Christ’s suffering and victory.
We have no assurance of meaning in life, temporal or eternal, outside of Christ’s suffering and victory.
We have no expectation that we will be left bruised and unbroken or smoldering and not extinguished outside of Christ’s suffering and victory.
We have no thing, nothing, outside of Christ’s suffering and victory.
This is the cost of the call to be a disciple of Jesus: to count our lives and everything in the world as insignificant and to consider our affliction unworthy of comparison to the surpassing weight of glory which is ours in Christ, in identifying with him, his cross, and his suffering.
Only by allowing the author and finisher of our faith to re-write our story to be one of abiding, yoking, and resting in him, can we too stand before the world and cry:
To live is Christ. To die is gain. I share in his suffering, in his sweet victory.
If you’re interested in more resources, here’s some that I’ve found helpful:
- Lenten Lights: Eight biblical devotions to prepare for Easter by Desiring God
- Lenten Preparations for Good Friday and Easter by Desiring God
- Why Bother With Lent by The Gospel Coalition