Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” – Matthew 16:24
These are challenging words from Jesus. They cut to the heart and demand a response. Jesus invites us to count the cost, and decide whether He is worth following. Are we willing to endure hardship, suffering, and pain for the hope of eternal glory? Are we willing to deny our own desires in order to be purified by the will of God? Are we willing to follow wherever Jesus leads; in short, are we willing to be a disciple?
Unfortunately, I believe the response of most of my generation to those questions would be: “maybe”. Very often I fall into the same non-commital attitude that infects my peers. “Yeah ok, I might come,” or “Maybe I can make it,” are two common phrases that accompany virtually every invitation. We love to keep our options open since something better or more exciting could appear at any moment. We struggle to commit to seeing a movie on a Friday night, let alone big things like marriage, children, or faith. I’ve come to realize that this irrational fear of commitment is both destructive and a huge obstacle to knowing, loving, and serving God. God doesn’t want wishy-washy followers; He desires decisiveness and intentionality.
A key to understanding true discipleship and therefore recognizing the twisted nature of being non-committal is illustrated by the words of Christ, “If any man could come after me, let him deny himself…” It seems to me that commitment to Christ requires a willingness to ignore or even reject our own desires. To be His follower involves an acceptance that we follow Him. He comes first. I have often heard my generation described as selfish or self-centered and it’s clear that the spirit of this age wants every individual person to think for themselves, seek personal pleasure, and fulfill one’s own dreams. This is the essence of narcissism, which explains why my generation continues to fall away from Christ at a staggering rate. Heaven forbid we follow anything since that could mean a submission of our will to another. We don’t like many rules, but “think for yourself or do what feels right,” is one rule we eagerly embrace. Because of this, I think we can aptly be called “Generation Maybe.” We might do this or we could do that, as long as it fits into the plan we have for ourselves. This is not what God intended and this cannot characterize a disciple of Jesus Christ.
We all have dreams and we all have some idea of what we think will make us happy and fulfilled. We long to be included, loved, and celebrated, and that’s ok. Additionally, the options for pleasure and fun have never been more numerous, and the freedom to choose is intoxicating. However, only through commitment to Christ can we experience those things that we most deeply long for in our hearts. We can continue to operate as a generation full of “me” people, shrinking from the slightest sign of commitment. The Lord offers us a life-giving alternative: “Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me.”
What’s your answer?
Please don’t say, “Maybe.”